Gabriel- ‘sent’ – God word comes 3 Advent 2018

19 Dec

Gabriel, ‘sent’ ; His word comes’ advent 3 2018

Vines Greek New Testament defines

Send ‘ as – apostello lit., “to send forth” (apo, ” from”), akin to apostolos, “an apostle,” denotes (a) “to send on service, or with ..

Lukes’s gospel opens with the Angel Gabriel traveling in his Lord’s service first to Zechariah the priest and Elizabeth’s husband.

Later, when Gabriel speaks to Mary a number of similarities and differences arise: both Zechariah and Mary are spoken to in moments when they are alone, in privacy with their thoughts and emotions; and both respond with questions and doubts. Both were also in prayerful states when Gabriel approaches. But they are also very different people: one was a young girl, a virgin to be wed; the other an older man very settled in marriage. One was hopeful in prayer concerning her new life path; the other reflective on the absence of children and the joys of an extended family. Luke describes Zechariah as being in specific prayer for a child and that he, Gabriel, was coming in direct answer to the priest Zechariah’s prayer. But the priest does not believe there will be a child, then…

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel.I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Words here stop for a time.

He who makes his living through speaking- will not even be able to share with his wife Elizabeth his emotions. Yet words will become action; facts: first for Mary as Her story and response is different from Zechariah’s. Luke tells us that …

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Mary in response does as Zechariah question ‘how’?; and yet she listens to the sent Angel Gabriel and immediately believes. Mary’s words do not stop when she hears Gabriel’s words. But Zechariah will speak later too. Why?

Because Gabriel comes to both Mary and Zechariah with somewhat similar news: births are always miracles but for each of them their children come in the face of a lifelong sterile marriage and in Mary’s case virginity. Their coming children are sent. Miracles of answers to prayers; words. And each are ‘sent’ to.

So why is the word “sent” used in each’s narrative? What is the meaning of its use?

‘Sent’ indicates not just a message; an angel; or even that children will be sent to Mary and Zechariah. What is sent are words. God’s words.

Words which will become actions; truth; love.

In Mary’s narrative (verse 37) has Gabriel stating to Mary’s question “how” -‘That no word of the Lord will fail’ The older NIV translation famously translated this verse as ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’

I always loved this older translation. I taught and wrote on it. Can you imagine thru eternity how many impossible prayers Gabriel has seen happen; come true? Inspiring beauty.

But as I have gotten older I am growing quite attracted to this new NIV revised translation. God sends His personal words to us; He speaks; and He hears our words and worship. He is a God true to His word even if at times as Zechariahs we don’t believe; we doubt yet we still have His sent word. It always holds us more than we can ever hold it. Ultimately the narratives of both Mary and Zechariah end with their singing prophetic words. They send us songs. Both sing that in essence that ‘the Lord has done done great things for me… for us’ ( verse 49)

And that is why Mary and Zechariah’s -as different as they are- have the word ‘sent’ in common: so we can understand and then receive the gift of the word. His word. Never void; becoming flesh. A baby’s soft flesh.

God sends; we receive. Hallelujah

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