Tamar’s Story — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Matthew 1.1, 3
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…

Genesis 38.26
26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

Reflection: Tamar’s Story — Love of Advent
By Erin Newton

These are the matriarchs of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. This is Tamar’s story.

Born among the Canaanites, Tamar was not one of Abraham’s kin. She married Er, the son of Judah and Shua, his Canaanite wife, and so became (for a short time) part of Abraham’s lineage.

Marital bliss was not to be found, for Er was evil. I imagine a loveless marriage filled with emotional or physical abuse. Perhaps a husband prone to angry outbursts and critical remarks. Perhaps a husband who sought other women or beat his workers. We are left only to wonder. The wickedness of Er, however, exceeded the tolerance of even God, and God ended his days.

Marital bliss certainly vanished. Tamar was a young widow. Among a people heralded for their covenantal righteousness—bound to be blessings among the nations—Tamar would find another form of abuse.

Judah’s second son, Onan, purposely thwarted his cultural duty to provide an heir for Tamar, though not hesitating to take pleasure in sleeping with her. She is used for her body but denied a child. Such selfishness of Onan exceeded the patience of God, and so God ended his days as well.

The final son, Shelah, is given to Tamar as a vague promise. A long time passes. I imagine Tamar living in her father’s house without a husband or child. Two men had abused her and now she must wait for the third. I imagine she worried he would be as terrible as his brothers.

Judah—a man of the covenant of Abraham, the namesake for the nation of God’s people, the patriarch in charge of Tamar’s honor—seeks out a shrine prostitute without hesitation just as the promises to Tamar have been delayed without hesitation. She takes matters into her own hands, maneuvering the situation so that Judah confuses her with a prostitute. She bears twin boys by Judah and reveals his failure of duty.  

The men tasked to care for Tamar placed their pleasures and priorities over her dignity and honor.

This was no story of godly love. 

But she is not defined by the abuse she suffered at the hands of men or by her assertive (and albeit, morally questionable) actions. Once abused and neglected, Tamar is chosen and honored as one of five women named in Jesus’s family. She is a matriarch of Jesus.

In the love of Jesus belong the abused. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and glorify your Name forevermore. — Psalm 86.12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 11-12  (Listen 6:00)
Psalms 119-25-48 (Listen 15:14)

Read more about The Wrong People
Many of us have felt like we’re the wrong people to build up God’s kingdom…God uses the Tamars…Rahabs…And the Pauls. 

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For Those Yet Unseeing :: Worldwide Prayer

Mark 8.17-18
Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? 

Reflection: For Those Yet Unseeing :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Often people of faith express the wish to be able to stand among the disciples, seeing and touching, and experiencing Jesus first hand. There’s nothing wrong with such a fanciful wish as long as it is simply a wish to stand in his presence. (We know in faith that we will stand in his presence, and bow down.) 

But often, this wish comes with assumptions. 
We assume that faith comes easily when we witness miracles. 
We assume that the disciples were ancient simpletons and that our quick modern minds would easily decipher Christ’s pedagogy of parables. (We ignore that science tells us that our species’ intelligence has been identical for eons.)

But we are wrong on both those counts. 
Those who witnessed the miracles of the Bible still struggled to have faith. 
And modern “scholarship” has not brought us greater understanding of Christ, but indeed, has muddied the waters with doubt, conjecture, and fringe theology presented as “faith” accompli—as if it has always belonged to the mainstream. 

It is ironic that some who reject junk science that is rejected by an overwhelming percentage of scientists are willing to accept junk theology that is rejected by an overwhelming percentage of theologians. It is equally ironic that some who reject junk theology are quick to accept junk science. Both groups are blind, deaf, mute, and immobile.

When we pray this prayer of intercession for the blind, deaf, mute, and immobile in our culture, may we not forget to include ourselves.

A Prayer of Intercession from Great Britain

Thank you, God, for the Church,
Help us to share fully in the church family.

We pray for people who are blind:
Help them to see Jesus.

We pray for people who are deaf:
Help them to hear Jesus.

We pray for people who cannot use their legs:
Help them to walk with Jesus.

We pray for people who cannot speak clearly:
Help them to know that Jesus understands.

Please help us all to serve you.
Fill us with the fruit of the 
Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Prayer: The Greeting
To you I lift up my eyes, to you enthroned in the heavens. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he shows us his mercy  —  Psalm 123.1-3

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 38 (Listen – 4:24) 
Mark 8 (Listen – 4:29)

Read more about Struggling with the Word
We often approach the Bible as consumers, treating it as a store full of solutions to our problems. When we do this, we easily are overwhelmed by its shelves, confused by its organization, and frustrated by seemingly inexplicable products.

Read more about Forgiveness to Soften the Hardened :: Worldwide Prayer
There is no level of spiritual achievement or growth at which one is not susceptible to hardening of the heart and the spirit. Christ’s call echoes again. Calling us deeper into every discipline we pursue.