Friday, December 18, 2015

Be Filled

An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son. Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean. As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines.”  Judges 13:3-5

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Luke 1:13-16

This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear,
Holy and righteous in His sight
All the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins. (From the Canticle of Zechariah)

Cain to Abel to Isaac to Samson to John.  Each one (and others throughout the Hebrew Bible) foreshadows the next.  Each one lays down the archetypes that we will see in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.  After generations of waiting, people knew the signs.  They watched like we wait and watch in Advent.  They just did not know it would be six days until Christ’s birth. 

A son is born where there was no chance of conception.  The mother was advanced in years like Sarah.  The mother was barren like Elizabeth.  The mother was a young virgin.  Yet new life springs forth because all things are possible before the Lord.

The work of these young men will bring change and repentance.  Samson delivers Israel from the Philistines.  John gets people to turn away from sin in the desert. 

The power of the spirit will be upon them from leaping inside the womb to leaping into good works from inside the temple, life is not about self but about what we do for others.

Although these are stories about overcoming obstacles, sometimes, hurdles remained.  Zechariah could not part with his doubts and fears. 

Michael Card, in Luke:The Gospel of Amazement provides some welcome context for this scene.  Zechariah was a member of the priestly class.  As such, it is a once in a lifetime honor to get to burn incense at the altar in the temple.  While there, Zechariah encounters an angel who gives him the best news he can hope to get: that his wife who has been barren, will have a child.  Yet, his reaction is “How can I know all this?” 

Therefore, Gabriel extracted a steep (but temporary) price.  Zechariah lost his voice in the wilderness of fears. Once Elizabeth delivered her son, Zechariah’s fears departed and in its place was the faith (and a voice) to name his son John, breaking with tradition.  That son would be a voice crying out in the wilderness. 

John and all these new lives – and most encounters with angels – take fear away and have us turn to things that will fill us with goodness.

What do you fear?  Losing your job…losing your social status…losing your house…losing your life? 

If we fill our lives with external objects, when we lose those objects, we lose the meaning that they brought with us.  When we free ourselves from those objects, then we are free to allow the spirit of the Lord to take their space and place.

Fill your life with the Spirit of the Lord this holy season. Allow it to awaken your turn to mercy.  Empty your life of other obstacles.  If you need to find a new home for those items, contact A Wider Circle.  You can drop things off or if you have big things to share, contact them to arrange a pick-up.  

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