Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Listening to Angels

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and 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, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Luke 1:8-24

Last night there was a complete lunar eclipse and it was visible in our area. We set the alarm to get up and view it. It was a bitter, windy night and with teeth chattering, we laughed and sang as we watched the moon turn an orange-brownish red and fade away to have its side reappear a few minutes later. I tried to capture it with my camera but it wasn't cooperating, so this picture is from sweet Kevin Ringer. The gift of putting the camera down was that I was completely present to the celestial event, the winter solstice night sky and this rare phenomenon that hasn't happened since 1648. God's beauty and majesty, and the voices of angels. Mystery and beauty through sleepy eyes is no less awesome and incredibly wondrous. It was a once in a life time, small event, personal and quiet in our jammy clad observation selves, and yet we together witnessed the wonders of the Creator's universe the elegance our the creation.

In our Gospel story we hear about Zechariah visited by an angel - a small, private, out of the way event. The angel told of the coming of John, their son to be born in their old age, an impossibility that God was working in time and simplicity. Zechariah did not believe the angel Gabriel, it was all too much and no one would believe him. Gabriel, for his part, made Zechariah silent for the duration of Elizabeth's pregnancy and Elizabeth hid herself out of fear. Listening to angels can get us in trouble in this world.

Today, I want to open my heart and my ears to the angels, listening to God possibilities rather than the world's closed doors. I want to be forgiving and loving of others, repentant for the things I have done so that God's work of healing and restoration might be shared through me. Today.

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