This is the week for the black sheep

Who of us, at some point, does not feel like the odd person out?  We are not pretty enough, smart enough, nice enough, thin enough, wealthy enough.  We just are not enough.  We “look down” and say to ourselves, “I will never fit in here.  I am the black sheep.”

My Advent reading this morning, the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1 (verses 1-17), could be headlined, “Black sheep play prominent role in Christmas story.”   There are four women included in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah who most certainly would be shunned by many of us today…

* Tamar (verse 3) who deceived her father-in-law Judah, son of the patriarch Jacob, into having sexual intercourse with her

* Rahab the prostitute (verse 5) who hid the spies in her house in Jericho

* Ruth (verse 5), a pagan, childless widow from the tribe of the hated Moabites

* Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, (verse 6) the woman whose name, throughout history, is synonymous with adultery

My missionary friend Carolyn Butler asks, “Who but God would ever have chosen them to be part of the great redemption story?”

The challenge of Christmas — for me, the challenge every day — is to face my own prejudices.  The list is long … race, color, culture, appearance, gender, employment, financial status, education.  Who do I include?  Who do I shun?

Often I am intolerant and judgmental.  This is the Advent prayer I wish I would pray more often:  “Lord, in my own failures, weaknesses and brokenness, help me be more patient with others, with myself and with my own discriminatory thoughts and practices.”

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