Matthew 1:1-2; 6A; 16-17
"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers...and Jesse the father of King David...and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 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 Christ. "
Country in Focus: Ireland
Tradition: Helping the Poor
Activity: Pick a service project to do with your family.
Contact a local church or service organization and sign up for a service project! There are so many to choose from...for example, your family could work for a day in a soup kitchen, or work at a "church under the bridge" project, or fold clothes at a thrift store, or...
I should point out that the service project will NOT be performed today. You will discuss your options with your family and do a little research today. Also, you may want to discuss why we do service projects. Our service projects are not scheduled until Dec. 29th and Jan. 11th. But it is on the calendar and they know what, when, where, how and WHY they are doing them.
Of course, many countries have the Christmas tradition of helping the poor during Christmas. To be fair, I think we know that I am just partial to Ireland. ;) In Ireland, the Feast of St. Stephen, which is celebrated on December 26th, is one of the nine official public holidays. Stephen was the first official Christian martyr. You can read more about him in Acts 6.
The Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" is a legend about a king who gave alms to a peasant on the feast day of St. Stephen. The legend is based on the account of the life of a duke who lived in Bohemia in the early 900's. He was made a saint by the Church and had a cult following in both Bohemia and the British Isles. In a chronicle of his life, written about a hundred years later, it was said that he got up each night, walking barefoot, and went to churches to give money to the widows and orphans. Pope Pius II proclaimed this legend as truth several centuries later, when he decided to emulate this story by walking ten miles through the snow barefoot as an act of thanksgiving to God.
For centuries there was another Irish tradition that went on in small villages. When families went to bed after their evening meal on Christmas Eve night, they left a candle burning on their kitchen table. On the table was left a pitcher of milk and a loaf of bread. The front door was left unlatched. Any traveler that was passing by was extended the hospitality of coming into their home and eating the food that was left on the table.
This Christmas remember the words that Jesus spoke, that Matthew left for us in his gospel...
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "