Listen to: The PianoGuys, "O Come, Emmanuel," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc
Friends, this week was demanding! There were special projects every day. Meetings every night. It's like this at the end of every year -- have you noticed? Where does the time go in December?! It has gotten to the point that I might withdraw from Facebook for the season of Advent. I find that what precious time there is can disappear easily reacting to posts, clinking like, sharing items that touch me. However I have grown dissatisfied because the connection I seek is deeper. I realize the longing that is there cannot be satisfied so readily on Facebook. I need to find it listening to Jesus and what the scriptures say about him.
One way to draw closer to Jesus is to look at the women in Jesus' Genealogy. Did you know that women do not figure in ancient genealogies? They simply did not count. the geology of Jesus found in the gospel of Matthew is the exception. Five women are named there. Five!! The first one named is Tamar, and her story is found in Genesis 38. In brief, Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Her husband, Judah's firstborn, died. By custom Tamar was given to the next son. But he too died. The youngest was promised to Tamar, but he was still young. So Judah sent her to her father's house, a widow and childless. There she was, forgotten.
It's hard for us to imagine, but Tamar had no power in this situation. It was up to Judah to give her to his last son, as was custom and the law of the clan, or to free her as a widow to remarry someone else. Judah did neither. In fact Judah calls her by a specific term, for widow which refers to a destitute widow, with no financial support and sends her back to live in her father's house. So Tamar's fate is dire. The years past. Tamar's life remains in limbo. A woman's identity in the ancient world came through marriage and child bearing. Tamar had neither - that made Tamar a nobody.
So Tamar did the unthinkable. She took her life and destiny into her hands. When she learns that the recently widowed Judah was going to the sheep shearing, she takes off her widow's garb, and veiled goes to Enain,which means the "opening of the eyes." Tamar's eyes are opened to how Judah wronged her. Matters take their course. Judah, thinking her a prostitute, engages her "services". They fix a price. Judah gives her a pledge for payment. After the Judah has relations with her, Tamar returns home and dresses as a widow again. Word gets out - Tamar is pregnant! She's played the harlot, people tell Judah with glee. With great self-righteousness, Judah demands her to be burned to death. Tamar sends him the pledge, and says, by the owner of these items am I pregnant. Judah's eyes are then opened -- and he recognizes the injustice done to Tamar. To his credit, Judah says "she is more right than I." Tamar goes on to give birth to twins, Zerah and Perez. Perez's name means "breach - breaker," "breaking through (an enclosure), breakthrough."
Tamar broke through the confines and oppression of her life. Perez broke through at birth, beating his twin to be firstborn. Perez became the line from which Jesus was born. Jesus, who is our Divine Breach-Breaker, breaking through to our world to free us from oppression and sin.
The story of Tamar is not a regular Sunday school lesson. It is a complex story, filled with unfamiliar customs,sexuality and scandal. Most important, it is a story that gives us hope and tells us something about Jesus. Jesus crossed boundaries to bring healing and wholeness. Jesus reached out to widows, prostitutes, the oppressed and embraced them. Tamar reminds us of God's actions:
God acts in a scandalous fashion in taking on human flesh, in being born of woman, of doing what it takes to break through, to right the wrongs, to turn us from a "nobody" to a "somebody" in God's eyes.
Like Tamar, may our eyes be opened and may we have the courage to act in justice and love, and live into the abundance of life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). Amen!
PRAY: "Holy Breach Breaker, breakthrough to our hearts, open our eyes and may we live the abundant life you call us to."