Looking for something to consider and meditate upon in the first twenty verses or so of Matthew is not easy. Many years ago, I created a performance piece that illustrated the lives of the five women of this genealogy, but it is only now that I discover that there is controversy over this list. In other places in scripture and Jewish history, the generations are not equally fourteen by fourteen by fourteen. What gives?
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
If anyone is interested in a discussion of this discrepancy, there is a good (although somewhat dense) article in the Harvard Theological Review by George F. Moore. Most of it appears to be the need for synchronicity in the expectation of the coming Messiah. It’s a case of cycles. In a world where cycles were seen each year and marked with feasts and worshipful sacrifices, they were critical. We experience cycles in our own world, but, perhaps more dependent on one’s lifestyle or geography. After all, not every area of our country or world experiences the four seasons, some only have three (cold, hot, and rain). Others maybe two, warm and snow. Or what about the other cycles we’ve arbitrarily created? How many of us, because of the beginning of school in the fall, start something new at that same time of year? And there are those who follow the church calendar, another kind of cycle. And still others, follow the monthly cycles of their bodies.
Cycles help us give meaning to the changes in our lives. It is a wheel of time, if you will. I believe time is the most critical of all dimensions for human. We can do nothing to change the march of time (although there may be some extraordinary humans who have discovered a way to break the skin of time and have entered another dimension . . . and still others who have traveled space and played tricks with time). But most of us are slaves to cycles of time.
Even now, I keep glancing at the clock in the lower right hand corner of my screen. Time is marching and I must go to work. I’m late.
In recent years, many people have hungered for knowledge of their personal genealogies. They are looking back. They want to count their generations. Where are each one of us in the cycle of our generations? Where is the beginning point? And where might we be heading?
I am the accumulation of my generations past. I am a contributor to the generations of my future, whether biological or not. I am a point in time. Or an exclamation mark. Or a question. I am a breath. I am a color, a sound, a mark.