The Bible is no storybook of heroes. Sure, there are the David-Goliath kinds of moments of bravery, and there are spit-fire prophets who defy kings and call fire from heaven. But those are the exceptions.
Most of the stories of the Bible are about ordinary people.
And when I say ordinary, what I really mean is screwed up. Inconsistent. Hypocritical. Selfish and mean.
The Bible bears out God's grand and heroic story of rescue in the lives of the un-extraordinary, on the stage of the screw-ups. Those are the names that figure into Matthew's genealogy.
Abraham, liar. Jacob, cheat. David, adulterer and murderer. Manasseh, worst of all Israelite kings.
All of them, good-for-nothings.
All of them, ancestors of the King.
The genealogy reads exactly as it should, a kind of neon advertisement for God: "Wanted: men and women who've screwed it up bad."
Today's word is failure.
Failure has NOT ONCE tied God's hands, leaving him pacing the floor about plan B. No, failure is always God's invitation to show up. Failure is precisely the way God gets credit for all that He's doing. Failure keeps us hungry for grace.
This Advent, I'm giving up on perfection and performance. For if Abraham and David, Jacob and Manasseh somehow made it into God's story, then there just might be hope for me.
Today's Advent invitation is to fail. Fall face first and prove just what a spiritual clutz you are. And there find the grace of the Jesus story.