Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
It’s a Little Gidding kind of rainy day around here, a few days until we spring ahead, the recent weather a strange Climate-Changed damp late winter followed by a crisp and chilly first weekend in March. The baptism of Jesus in Luke, when paired with the genealogy that follows, echoes the strange circling of our seasons. (Luke 3:21-38)
Matthew goes straight ahead, beginning at the beginning and reciting the generations, with inclusion of some heroic women, until he reaches Joseph, the husband of Mary. Luke begins at the end – with the son of a supposed father.
Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. People supposed that he was the son of Joseph son of Heli … son of Enos son of Seth son of Adam son of God. (Luke 3:23, 28, CEB)
Some scholars are fascinated by the different ancestors posited by Luke as compared to Matthew, but I saw something here I hadn’t noticed before. Immediately after Jesus is named as a beloved Son by the voice of God, the gospel writer lines out the family tree, and it ends with the identity that has already been named, not the sketchy “as was legalized” parentage of the Greek original that begins the telling, but with the true identity, son of God.
Although I was placed with my parents at age two weeks, the vagaries of Virginia law at the time meant my adoption was not final until I was 18 months old. My mother was Southern Baptist, and my father a Methodist, and somehow they managed to convince the pastors of both their churches that a Christening would be a good idea. The family gathered in the chapel of the Methodist church for this event; the Baptist minister participated. After the ceremony, pictures memorialized the day. When, as a curious Baptist-identified teenager, I sought to be baptized, no one told me that really, it had been done already. It had never occurred to me, you see. The words were different. I didn’t remember the event. The same Southern Baptist minister baptized me.
When I realized later that I had been done twice, I asked my parents about it. My father, despite being a lawyer, said, “We were so glad you were ours. It didn’t seem sufficient just to go to court.” They wanted me to be not only the child of Billy and Virginia Spong, as was legalized, but in the eyes of the God whose child I was and am, too.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Holy God, Mother and Father of us all, thank you for the people in my life who understood that truth is deeper than doctrine or practice, the people who taught me that no matter what ancestry.com has to say, all our genealogies trace back to You. You are the beginning and the end. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? Full schedule can be found here.