Oh, so soon
Friday, December 23, 2011
What then will this child be? Surely the hand of the Lord is with him.
When the baby is born, our gaze shifts from mother to child.
First to John. The harbinger. Jesus’ cousin, the Nazarite and hollerer, steel-eyed-righteous man of the desert. Like an oncoming, hungry crow, he darkened the horizon for Herod and Herodias. Eventually she carried his head from the dance floor. Exultant, ready to crow herself, she had him. John was finally and utterly silent.
But that is yet to come. It is unknown to Zechariah and Elizabeth, as they rejoice in the birth of their son, given by God at the end of their lives. All is well in the hill country. The baby is nursing, the mother is well, and Zechariah speaks again. “His name is John.”
Four hundred years earlier, Malachi prophesied of this day and the coming age of the Messiah. God spoke through him and said, “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me. I will send you Elijah the prophet to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
John represents Elijah. He prepares the way for Jesus. Malachi continues, “Suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek. Who will endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears, for he is like a refiner’s fire. He will purify the sons of Levi (the priests) that they may offer right sacrifice to the Lord” (Malachi 3).
Today the days begin their lengthening arc toward the second solstice. John is here. Jesus is coming. John is crying in the desert. Turn your heart!
In the gentle knowledge between mothers and babies, Mary whispers to Jesus, “Listen.” Within her womb, Jesus caresses his mother, “I love you.”
Thunderheads gather, angels prepare to sing, the day is near upon us.
Can I find a place quiet enough to hear your whisper, Jesus? Show me how to make silence my companion and friend. Your presence is far beyond words. As you come to make your way on earth we welcome you.