Monday Scripture - Luke 1:26 'God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee...'
Monday Quote - Luci Shaw - “Paul gives us an astonishing understanding of waiting in the New Testament book of Romans, as rendered by Eugene Peterson, 'Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.' With such motivation, we can wait as we sense God is indeed with us, and at work within us, as he was with Mary as the child within her grew.”
The greek word that is translated into English as angel is 'aggelos.' It means messenger. Many of the times that an angel is present in the Bible, the message is that God is present despite appearances. As a matter of fact the message is that God is present and involved no matter how dire the circumstance. Angels are surprising and unexpected and as we will explore tomorrow, likely disconcerting, even inspiring fear. Today however, we focus on angels as those who bring the message that God is with us, that God is especially with those who are abandoned, abused or exploited.
When Hagar was exiled in the wilderness with a small son, no food, no shelter, no water, it was an angel that unexpectedly appeared. 'Do not be afraid,' the angel says to her, 'God has heard the [cries] of the boy.'
When God speaks to Moses it is an angel that simply appears as a burning bush, and when Israel journey's through the desert after their liberation from slavery, it is an angel that leads them by day and guards them at night. And when Gabriel appears to Mary the first message is, 'The Lord is with you.' Many times, the unexpected message is that God abides, is present, in intimately connected.
It is easy to doubt Israel's consistent claim that God is present and active in the world and in our lives, especially in difficult times. One could interpret most of the Bible's stories as dealing with that doubt, that struggle of feeling abandoned, alone, without help or guidance. In Hagar's stories, the struggle is being powerless and exploited. For Israel, the story is much the same but on a political and social level. It is too much to hope that circumstances could be different, that the status quo might be interrupted, that justice might come. Yet when angels arrive, Hagar and Israel and even Mary can begin to dream of what seemed unlikely, that God would be present with justice for them.
Mary too, after hearing the message of Gabriel. She sings, 'He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
But first, the angel says, 'The Lord is with you.' And all other hopes and dreams are born from that promise.
Monday Explore - Genesis 21:8-21; Romans 8:18-39
Monday Prayer - God who calls to us continually, give us ears to hear you. Create times, spaces and places for us to pause and listen. Remind us that listening for you and to you is the most important practice of faith for it inspires faithfulness in action. And we pray that our listening inspire within us compassionate and faithful response to what we hear.