We've seen some unexpected things this week: A With-Us God who doesn't mind starting the same way we did. Birth canal and all.
A God who loves the stinky outcasts who watch over their flocks as He does at night. The ones very much like you and me.
A God who came to counsel with strength, affection, and peace.
And here we are with a list in our hand that is quite unexpected, to say the least. This list is the lineage of Christ that is handed to us right before we are told about his birth.
And - wait, who?! There's a prostitute in my Christmas story?! Gah! Now what?!
First of all, it's true. And there's also a murderer in there too. Merry freakin' Christmas. We still feeling jolly?
Matthew gives us the lineage of the Baby-King and it's got some colorful characters. Thank God. Because the squeaky clean ones would box me out of the kingdom if that was the standard. Let's take a look:
Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab. Rahab is our lady. She was often referred to as Rahab-the-Harlot. How's that for a nickname? No thanks. You can just call me Ray. (*Van Gough's "Brothel" was carefully chosen for today's visual aide.)
Rahab ran a brothel and was most likely a prostitute herself. Business is business. But how did this business end up in the line of Christ?
Way back in the day, some Israelite spies were in trouble and needed a place to hide and be safe from the King of Jericho. He found out they were in town and was hunting them down. She hid them on the thatched roof of her brothel and told the Jericho authorities that they had come and gone. She risked her very life to keep them safe. She had also heard about their God and was in awe of Him.
Afterwards, the spies came back with the whole Israel army to take over the city and Rahab and her family were spared and saved from the battle.
And after they saved her, for hiding and saving them, she joined the Israelites and actually ended up marrying one of the spies. There must have been a connection that night. Like you have when someone shoves you in their roof as you fear for your very life. That usually spells romance.
Anyway, yes, Rahab ran a brothel. And you know what else? She was incredibly brave. She risked her life. She believed in God. She showed kindness. Hospitality. Faithfulness. Grit and Virtue. She was a mixed bag of a woman that God then blesses to be a great, great, great (many) grandmother to the Savior of the entire world.
God loves those with colorful pasts. Adores them. Comes for them. Redeems them. Uses them for His kingdom.
Thank God. There are days I have it very much together. And days I cannot keep anything, let alone my halo, straight. There are days I yell at my kids, days I get pissed at the world, days that I am not proud of to be sure. And there's more that has been done to me and more I have done that I'd love to just bury in the ruins of Jericho. I am a mixed bag, a messy mom.
If God came for Rahab, then He came for you and me.
And THAT is absolutely merry and bright news! That is a thrill of hope that the weary world rejoices in. That will silence me in the night. That will arrest me like the angels arrested the shepherds. That will cause me to sing Mary's song of praise and wonder and joy because of her Baby-King.
Christmas is amazing and over-the-top and unexpected. May yours be the merriest this season, in the most unexpected places.