Rev Katherine Rainger reflects on the ancient and contemporary desire for peace.
Holding onto the promise
Disability doesn’t discriminate. But neither does God’s love.
Daily Reading Luke 1:5-25
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.’
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’
Imagine the disruption to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth!
Zechariah had been away from home on his rostered temple duty. On his return he was unable to speak for nine months, while Elizabeth stayed in seclusion at home for the first five months of her geriatric pregnancy.
What a quiet and still space that would have been… perhaps filled with a sense of wonder, awe and I imagine a whole lot of longing for what might be.
Zechariah would have been holding onto the promise and prophecy about his first-born son with everything he had.
A promise from God is an incredibly powerful thing to cling to when your life is turned upside down and takes an unexpected path. There are some days when I find myself clinging to God, crying out to God, and longing for what might be.
Our life was turned upside down when we discovered our own first-born would live her life with extra challenges.
Disability is an intriguing part of life.
People living with disability often feel discriminated against, and yet disability itself has never discriminated.
It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, identity, race, wealth, or social positioning.
Each person’s journey with and experience of disability is unique, and yet in common is often a sense of longing to be included, valued, truly seen and fully loved.
The significant gift we are reminded of at Christmas is the abundant and powerful love of God that will never discriminate. God’s love sees and values every single human being.
When our daughter was asked about God’s promises on the occasion of her confirmation, Jasmin said:
I know God loves me – whenever I see him God is the one who loves me as a child of God.
I feel God in my heart
God is a good God.
I want to look after other people and tell them God is with them no matter what.
God can make people better by giving them love and compassion
They can see that God is here for them.
God loves me. God has given me people who love me.
God promises to be with me.
During this season of Advent, may we allow God to open our eyes and ears to truly see and hear those around us. May we be willing to love, accept and treasure every person and creation of God.
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