Weekly Devotional

Who’s That?

Reflection by Liz Garrigan-Byerly

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob...and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.


According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus had some pretty famous and infamous relatives (of course this is not Ancestry.com verified; it’s more theology than genealogy). His family tree included revered religious leaders (Abraham) and hero-kings (David). It also included colorful characters like Jacob (who stole his brother’s birthright) and Solomon (who stole his top military commander’s wife). And then there are the women! It’s surprising that women were included at all, let alone these women, with their juicy backstories and foreign births. Like many, I’ve found comfort and hope in this family tree, comfort that status and sin don’t seem to get in the way of God’s call and hope that God can (and does) use us all.


Last Sunday I had the chance to worship from the pews and my eyes were drawn to the plaque on a nearby pillar, which reads: “These pillars are erected in memory of Gladys S. Dougan, 1905-1921, given by her associates in the Young People’s Society.” I wondered who she was and what caused her death at such a young age. I wondered too at her associates; she must have meant a lot to them to inspire their support of the pillars in the new sanctuary. To my knowledge, we don’t know anything more about her and if not for that plaque, her name might be lost to us. And yet she continues to shape our life of faith, literally raising the roof for us.


Jesus’ family tree also includes a lot of names with no biblical reference or known history; if not for Matthew’s pen, they might be lost forever. I find comfort and hope in that too. I don’t care about being famous but I do care about having made a difference. Eliud, Eleazar and Gladys—about whom we know nothing except that they meant something to someone who preserved their name for us—give me comfort and hope that whatever I do in this life, be it noteworthy or not, is important and will, God willing, continue to be after my death.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for our ancestors in faith—famous, infamous and unknown. May they inspire us, always. Amen.

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