Good morning everyone! I am really starting to be ready for the weekend, how about you?
Today’s scripture: Luke 1:68-79
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear,in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
“The true contemplative is not the one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect or anticipate the word that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and when he is ‘answered,’ it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.”
-Thomas Merton, quoted in Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton
The scripture this morning comes from Zechariah, John’s dad. When Elizabeth discovers that she is pregnant, Zechariah no longer can speak until he is born. This all plays into the story of the nativity for Luke. John’s story is so intertwined to Jesus’ story that we know just as much about his birth and his parents. Zechariah is a priest and because he does not believe the angel of God he must be silent until John is born. What does he do during his silence? He waits for new life, not fully knowing if his voice will be restored. I am guessing that Zechariah does a lot of praying, watching, and preparing for whatever may come next. He has to use this new darkness to reconnect with God.
This reminds me of the Merton quote just up above. When we make room in the darkness to whatever may come, we may room for the voice of God to burst in. Last night at Bread and Wine, our new Wednesday night worship service, we got into a little debate about what is Advent. Is it a time to come into ourselves to reflect or a time to burst open with God’s word. And the response seemed to be both. We are motivated in the season to find stillness in ourselves which prepares us into action. Our time of silence, much like Zechariah or Thomas Merton, prepares us to sing out the good things of God. I also have come to believe that that silence is not a bad thing, it opens ourselves up to what can be in the future. For Zechariah, the silence started as a punishment but I bet a little piece of him was sad to be made loud again. He got to observe everything and just be. For Merton, that waiting is not a demanding time but one in which we are flexible to receive where God would have us next and where God is transforming the world.
Sometimes our definitions in Advent get a little muddled and we forget where we are preparing and for what in that silence. As another tool in our toolkit I offer you this quick 2 minute video for a quick reminder if you get lost….
Enjoy and I will chat with you tomorrow!