Father Douglas Anderson's weekly KneeMail to parishioners and friends of Saint James Church, Texarkana
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Kneemail from Saint James Church

January 3, AD 2018
The Tenth Day of Christmas

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2018 (Matthew 1:1-23)
“Wait, what?” You may be asking.  Why is he reading this long genealogy?  What happened to the swaddling clothes?  What happened to the shepherds; what happened to the angels singing “Glory to God in the highest?”
We’ve just heard the opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel, most of which is just a long list of names, starting with Abraham, moving on to David, and ending with Jesus.  In between are some names that we recognize—Jacob, Solomon, Jehoshaphat—and lots that we’ve never heard of—Hezron, Abiud and Azor.  One name after another, the generations of Hebrew people down to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
It’s like the old joke about the literary critic who was asked to write a review of the phone book.  His verdict: “Great cast of characters.  Weak plot.”  The genealogy is the Jerusalem phonebook of the Christmas story.  We usually skip over it to get to the “good stuff”—swaddling clothes and shepherds and angels.  And while Matthew’s genealogy is a liturgical option for the Gospel on Christmas Eve, I bet that not only have you never heard Matthew’s genealogy read at Mass, you’ve never heard a sermon on it.  That is about to change!
Genealogy was critical to Jews.  It determined what tribe you belonged to and what your position in the nation was; it determined the priesthood, since the priests had to come from the tribe of Levi; lineage determined who was to be king.  “In those days (we read) a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.”  So every man returned to his ancestral homeland.  The only way you could know how do that was to know your genealogy.  That is why St Joseph made the long and dangerous journey with his wife and unborn Child to Bethlehem, the town of his family’s origin.
In Scripture, sometimes the richest nuggets and biggest jewels lie hidden in the deepest caves.  It’s when we get out our pickaxe and shovel and then go digging that we find some real gems.  If all Scripture is inspired, as we believe, then this passage has relevance for us today.
Consider, for instance, the women of this genealogy: Tamar (v.3), Rahab and Ruth (v.5) and Bathsheba, wife of Uriah (v.6). The fact that women are listed here at all is very unusual.   When the Jews made a family tree, they didn’t include women on the list.  They traced the line from father to son.  But Matthew includes four women.
All of these women are Gentiles, either by birth or marriage, and here we see that Jesus is Savior not only of the Jews, but of all nations because he is descended from both.
At least three of these women are very shady indeed.  Tamar disguised herself as a harlot, and had an incestuous relationship, bearing twins by her father-in-law Judah.  Rahab was a harlot in Jericho, whose life was spared because she helped Joshua’s spies.  Bathsheba committed adultery with David and became his wife when David arranged for Uriah to be killed.  Ruth herself seems above reproach, but she was a Moabite, a nation born out of an illicit relationship between Lot and his daughters.  The sons of that incestuous relationship Moab and Ammon were incredibly evil, and bitter enemies of Israel.  
Let us review:
Tamar—incest, immorality, a Gentile.
Rahab—harlotry, lying, deception, a Cananite.
Ruth—a Moabite, born from the stock of the enemies of Israel.
Bathsheba—married to Uriah the Hittite, a party to adultery with David.
And all four are in the line that leads to Jesus Christ!

And not just the women:  Abraham lied about his wife Sarah, Isaac did the same.  Jacob was a cheat, Jeroboam was oppressive and taxed the people into rebellion, David was a liar who conspired to murder and cover it up, Solomon was a polygamist. Manasseh was the most evil king Israel ever had.
This is Jesus’ shockingly honest family tree.  And you thought your family had skeletons! What, then the gems of this genealogy for us?  What is the Good News this Christmas Eve?
I. Jesus, the Messiah, is born for all people.  If we’d read the usual gospel from Luke, we would have heard this message from the angels: 
Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
All the people.  He is Savior of the world, for Jew and Gentile alike, since, remember, he comes from both.  
We like to think that God’s ways our like our ways, that his thoughts are his thoughts.  We might think that God favors those who appear healthy, wealthy and wise by the culture’s standards.  We forget that many of the saints were once outrageous sinners—and even those who were not—faced situations that were embarrassing, unconventional or inconvenient.  Just think of the suspicions that people had about the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph.
Our focus should not be on the sin but on the amazing grace of God.  His grace shines through the blackest of human sin, no matter what your past, no matter your present, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, Jesus saves.
          “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 
This too is good news!
II. God knows your name.  If God knows all the obscure names of this genealogy, he knows your name.  When we know someone’s name, it means that we care about them.  We remember the names of our spouses, our children, our friends, our favorite waiter.  We even remember the names of our favorite musicians and athletes.  
If you feel forgotten or insignificant, or feel that there is nothing special about you, remember what Jesus says of the righteous:
If you conquer, you will be clothed … in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels (Rev 3:5).
God knows your name.  That is good news.
III. Jesus is born in space and time: the Incarnation—the enfleshment—of God in Jesus Christ is a historical event.  This is the point of us singing the Christmas Proclamation at the beginning of Mass:
Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah; thirteen centuries after Moses; eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges; one thousand years from the anointing of David as king; the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation of the city of Rome. The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.
When God had perfectly prepared every detail of history, in the fullness of time, he sent his Only-Begotten into the world:  
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us).”
God with us.  The most radical idea in this or any other faith in the world is the awesome, unlikely, challenging notion that God should so love us, that he would be with us and step into this world.  Not “direct from afar”, not “send angels” or “send prophets” but come amongst us. When we look at the face of the Child, we see the face of God come down to save us, in time, in our time.   Don’t be deceived by the weakness of this Baby, he is the Christ, God’s anointed One, the Messiah.  He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Jesus is God in skin, come to be with us.
And still he comes.  You and I cannot be in Bethlehem tonight.  And even if we could, Jesus isn’t there.  But Bethlehem comes to us.  If you seek the rocky cave, it is there behind the golden door of the tabernacle on the altar.  If you seek the Christmas star, there it is in the flickering sanctuary lamp.  If you seek the Child in swaddling clothes, in a moment he will be here veiled under the snow-white garment of the Host.  The Church is Bethlehem, the House of Bread—that’s what Bethlehem means—and that too is good news.
  1. Jesus is Savior of the world.
  2. Jesus is your Savior, he knows you by name.
  3. Jesus is Emmanuel to comes to mankind in history; he comes to you in your story.
Think of these gems, dug from this genealogy, when, in a moment you sing, 
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!


Sunday 6 January AD 2019
Low Mass at 8am.
Christian Education are in recess.
Sung Mass at 10am
Nursery provided during the 10:00 AM Mass
Each year, it is the privilege and responsibility of the members of our parish family to elect persons to serve as Members of Vestry and Delegates to Diocesan Convention. 
The Vestry now solicits nominations for Members of Vestry and Delegates to Diocesan Convention.
Members of Vestry, presided over by the Rector, share in the governance of the parish, with particular responsibility for the property and financial resources of the parish, and serve for a three year term. 
Diocesan Convention delegates represent our parish at the annual Diocesan Convention, and serve for a one year term.  The Diocesan Convention is usually held in November of each year.
We welcome and encourage your participation in this important part of our parish life. Nomination forms are available in the Parish Office, or we will be glad to email you one.
Expectations for those Nominated for Vestry
To be a Baptized and Confirmed member of this parish, age 18 or older.
To live a life reflecting the Christian faith and to strive to grow spiritually through worship, prayer and educational opportunities.
To regularly attend the public worship of the Church.  That is, absences from worship will be the exception, rather than the rule.
To attend meetings of the Vestry and any commission or board to which assigned.
To work for openness and unity amongst the clergy, Vestry and congregation. 
To contribute generously to the financial support of the parish and to make an annual written pledge of such support.


Sunday, January 20th, ANNUAL PARISH MEETING, immediately following the 10am Mass.

Martha Bean (31), Gail Crisp (2), Diane Akin (3) Glen Wile (4), Julie Huntley (5).

Charles & Ginger Cook (31), John & Melissa Delk (1).


Rest Eternal grant unto them, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon them.

We have received word of the death of Bob Brown, for many years a faithful parishioner at the early Mass. Interment in the Columbarium will be at a later date. 

Anniversaries of death falling this week: 
Louise Lee, 2004; Ruth Blake, 2008; Mary Bowman, 2005; Ann Williams, 2006.
Did you know that you can now pay your pledge or make a gift to Saint James' Church through our secure online payment system?  

See for details.
Epiphany OLJC
Reader 8am Jim Wilson
C.B. 8am Greg Torrance
C.B. 10:00am t.b.a.
Alan Pearce
Erica Stanley
Worth Matteson
Emma Burks
Elle Floyd
Davis Crouch
Ian Delk
Reader 10am Michelle Shores
POP 10am Candy Stevens Smith
Sunday School Teachers Collins Bruner
Children’s LOTW  
S.S. Snacks Summer Floyd
Ushers 10am
Todd Shores
Nick Prime
Scott Robertson
David Rodgers
It is our custom to send out reminders to those serving the following Sunday on three occasions: Tuesdays (by email), Wednesdays (via the Knee Mail), then then again on Thursdays (by email, with the Bulletin).  It helps the Office to know of any conflicts sooner rather than later!


THE FLOWER DONOR CHART is in the Narthex (porch) to sign-up to give flowers in memory or in thanksgiving of a loved one, or you may call or e-mail Martha Bean at 903-547-6911 – e-mail .  The cost is still just $35 per donor, per Sunday.  What a great way to honor or remember those who are important in our lives!

You can also now make your flower dedication through the Parish Website by visiting the form here.

THE ROSARY GROUP meets on Tuesdays at 10am to pray the “Bible on a String.” Come join us.  For more information, contact Lova at

THE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING is an Order for Episcopal women founded in 1885.  We are a prayer and service group who meets once a month.  We regularly take part in worship, study, and aid our Clergy as asked.  If you are interested in more about us, please call or e-mail Lova Wile (903-832-2533 ), Tammy Cowdery (903-277-2148 ), or Gail Crisp (903-838-0942 )
Copyright © 2019 Saint James' Church, All rights reserved.

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