Sometimes Angels Sing the Blues

party-146582_960_720When I read the start of the Christmas story in Luke, a Blues Brothers tune replays in my head. “Hold I’m, I’m Coming.” Over and over I hear it until I wonder if the angels formed a gospel choir and sang the blues to the shepherds in the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birth. 

God’s people had been waiting and longing for generations and they were tired of waiting. We haven’t changed much since those times. Haven’t learned much either. Many of the Israelites had grown so tired of waiting for the salvation of the Lord they were devising their own Messiahs through politics, through religious legislation, through abandoning hope and seeking other gods. Humans needed saving and they turned to themselves for answers rather than trust in the One God would provide.

Holding on is one of the hardest things we ever do. Waiting is so painful, waiting with hope an impossible burden, many take solace man-1156543_640in giving up. In abandoning the right path. In seeking a fleeting comfort, a second-rate dream, a smaller story than the one they were designed to live.

May this not be so with you, loved ones.

Life was messy for God’s people. They longed for the same things we desire – babies to love, enough money to build a home, freedom from fear, deliverance from our own failings but, like us, they experienced hardship and oppression from without and within.

chairs-325709_960_720Elizabeth and Zechariah served God amid this pressure and pain. They had lived faithful lives into their senior years despite God’s refusal to bless them with a child. Where others might repay this unanswered prayer with rebellion, they continued to serve God because He is God and not because He granted them their every wish.

Then when the time was right for God, He pressed them into the service of His great plan for all generations by choosing them to bear the prophet John who would prepare the way for His Son, Jesus. He revealed to them the part of the Great Story reserved for them, waiting for the fullness of time.

Elizabeth and Zechariah perfectly represent all who wait, all who live with unmet longing, all tanga-102577_640who suffer yet continue to seek God and not their own way. They weren’t perfect but daily, they had made one choice after another to serve God and not themselves. Rare souls in those days and rare in ours as well.

We live in longing now, too. We long for true freedom. We long for to see the hope for which we’ve waited, the salvation of our souls and the souls of those we love, but it’s all such a long time coming. It seems He was barely with us for a heartbeat when the waiting began again, the waiting for His return.

Are you waiting and longing this season? Are you growing weary? Are you pressed on every side by the temptation to give up, to find another way even if it’s a lesser path? Do you hear voices telling you that you’re a foolish dreamer, an idealist, someone who needs to get a grip and join the rest of the mortals in what they already wisely have done – settle for smaller stories? I understand the fatigue and Jesus sees it, too, but He cries out to you to hold on, loved one. Hold on, He’s coming.

book-1740519_960_720Read, again, Zechariah’s words at the birth of John the Baptist and know that this story is one so great that God bides His time so that more have an opportunity to enter in. Those of us who found Him early can call on His strength and the strength of those who came before us to find the courage to hold on.

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (He entered history, He was here, He lived, He died, He rose again, and so too, will He return)
“and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant Dsheep-158272_960_720avid, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;” (Haters and evil people will not win the day, not in the end, so we must resist the temptation to join them no matter how large their masses grow)

“to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” (We aren’t saved so we can pursue our own pleasure but so that we might serve Him. In this way we enter a Greater Story and live the adventure we were created to know this side of glory and then beyond.)

“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 doors-1690423_640salvation to his people  in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God,” (And we, too, can prepare the way for Jesus into the hearts of our loved ones, our neighbors, even our enemies by speaking and living the truth every day, even in sacrifice and self-denial)

“whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 2: 68-79 (There are those who say this darkness is our path into endless night but we know that Jesus ushered in the light-932340_960_720sunrise of eternal life for all who choose to follow Him. As we let Him live within us, so we, too, shine with this light, and we lead others by following Him in the way of peace.)

We are the lights of Christmas, loved ones. So shine on as you hold on through this last stretch guitar-640529_640of darkness for just as He came before, rest assured, He is coming again.’

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