Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall
I know this?
Far too many times, I suspect that we miss visits by angels, messengers, instruments of God with a message for us. Sometimes we acknowledge hearing something, feeling different, experiencing a "movement" but we don't act on it. Whatever the means of communication, the Word that comes to us is usually a call to have hope, to believe that God's promises will be fulfilled, to trust in God. Sometimes it is even a call to do something: to act with hope, when there doesn't seem to be any hope; to trust in God's love and call, even when there doesn't seem to be any reason to trust.
The invitation to believe that all things are possible with God comes to us quite often. Our doubt, our fear, our angers, our harshness about others tend to dull our ability to dream and hope. We become "realists." At times we become "cynics," proud that we are experienced enough that we won't be duped by anyone.
When the invitation is to love my spouse, when my spouse seems to be beyond being responsive to love, it is difficult to act on that call. It isn't easy to not lose hope in our children, when they rebel against authority and perhaps are being too influenced by their friends and the messages in the world about what success is. We become discouraged, perhaps hardened, when we experience the call to forgive someone who has harmed us, when we hear the call to make peace and work for reconciliation where we are divided in our church or in the world. And, fundamentally, sometimes we just can't accept the invitation to believe God loves me, that God could heal me, change me - the sinner I am. Then it is so hard to be open to the reality that Jesus might be calling me to be his servant in loving and healing wounds.
When we lose hope, we can't believe that God can accomplish what God promises and invites us to believe and do. And, when we lose hope, we lose our voice. We lose the ability to proclaim, "let it be done, because I believe you ask me to trust because you know you can do what you promise." We can't tell others, "God is faithful." In a sense, all we can witness to others is: "My heart is voiceless. My spirit has lost the ability to dream, to imagine, to hope expectantly."
But, when we are open to the power of God's promises, then our hearts leap for joy when we hear the calls that come to us all the time. We are thrilled when our Lord asks us to love a spouse who is hurting or is unable to receive or speak affection. We are no longer resistant but feel the relief in being asked to forgive and surrender our anger. We can say, "Yes, Lord, I trust that I can love, with your healing grace. I trust that you can empower me to do what you ask me to do. I will love un-conditionally and place my life in your hands."
Dear Jesus, heal my fears, my doubts. Take me beyond my dis-trust. En-courage my dis-couraged heart. Let my voice proclaim my Advent hope in your redemptive love for me, that I might join you in your mission to become flesh, a part of, to love as you love me. Come, Lord Jesus. Come and be born anew in the stable of my heart that I might join you in your mission of self-sacrificing love..
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