Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Did You See That?!?

Maybe its just me, but the nights have seemed darker than usual. I know, I know . . . Maybe Im just a little too jaded and cynical in my old age.

Stoke that fire a bit, would you mind? The nights seem colder, too. At least, they do to me.
And maybe Im just tired of the same-old, same-old in my so-called career. Herding sheep at my age? Sitting out here in the freezing cold, night after boring night . . . Good thing Ive got my friends with me around this fire, or Id probably go nuts.

Its like I was telling some of youoh, let me see, it must have been almost a year agothese so-called four hundred silent years have pretty much sucked all the faith out of me. And not just me, mind you. A lot of people.

Whats that? Are you kidding me? Do you actually believe that naive young punk, Joseph whats-his-name?

Yes, yes, of course Ive heard the story. Its a small town; word travels fast, especially when its so ridiculous. His girlfriends pregnant, and he claims shes still a virgin. Cmon, did this kid skip his human biology class? Thats not how it works.

Have you heard her version of the pregnancy? Dont laughthe angel Gabriel brings a message: the baby is really Gods offspring. I almost fell off my camel, I laughed so hard the first time somebody told me that one.

A quiet divorce, you say? Well, thats more than she deserves, I guess. Pretty decent of Joseph, no matter how gullible he is.

Oh, come on, now. You cant be serious. Now Joseph is claiming angelic messages? He went ahead and married her anyway? Wowtheres a sucker born every minute.
All this talk of angels, messages from Godguys, need I remind you that it's been four hundred years since anything has been heard from the Almighty? Get over it, already!

Wait a second . . . Whats that light . . .? Do you see what I see?
*     *     *
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
(Luke 2:8-20)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ssh! Did you just hear something?

Four hundred years.

Four-freaking-hundred years.

Thats how long its been since weve heard anything from God. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Not even a whisper.

He used to talk to us all the time, but those days are long gone.

Granted, it was usually through some annoying prophetIsaiah, Amos, Malachi, just to name a fewaccusing us of abandoning our Covenant with God. We usually just rolled our eyes at them. Maybe, just maybe, we shouldve listened.

Oh, watch your step, there. Its really dark tonight, isnt it? I can barely see a cubit in front of me!

Now, what were you asking about again? Oh, right, the four hundred years . . .

Now, when I said we, of course, I really meant our ancestors. None of us were around then, after all. So, why are we being punished for their lack of response? I mean, seriously . . . four hundred years of silence? Really? For something we werent even alive for?
Anyway, the local Pharisees (our religious leadersnow theres a grumpy crew) have been neurotically obsessed with keeping all the rules of the Covenant. And even adding new ones, just in case God may have overlooked something. Maybe they think thatll convince God to stop ignoring us.

Our other religious leaders, the Sadduccees, say this is the new normal and we just have to get used to it.

And dont get me started on the Romans and their occupying army. Everybody says were Gods chosen people, but Rome does whatever it pleases on our streets and has for years.

Whats that? You think you saw something? Where?

In that corner house? You mean that bright light in the window? Yeah, now that you mention it, that does seem more intense than any lantern Ive ever used.

Oh wait . . . its gone now, whatever it was. Now it seems even darker out here. Watch your step, okay?

Anyway, Ive about given up any hope of God ever doing anything remarkable. I mean, four hundred years is a long time, wouldnt you agree? Maybe God has forgotten about us, or given up on us, or . . . who knows?

All Im sure of is this: four hundred years of silence gives me very little hope for the future . . .
*     *     *

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1:26-38 NLT)