Reflection: Luke 1: 59-63 (read by Jacob)
They were going to name him Zachariah after his father, but his mother spoke up: “No!” She said. “He is to be called John.” “But,” they said, “there is nobody in your family that has that name.” They enquired of his father by signs what he would like to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and to everyone’s astonishment wrote, “His name is John.”
It’s interesting to read between the lines. I’m envisioning a bit of pandemonium here. The (gasp) and (eek) and horror of: that’s not how things are done. The almost panic of you can’t name him that! Coupled with gestures and signs to Zachariah. One can imagine that the voices get louder and the gestures get bigger!
He’s not blind. He’s not deaf. He’s mute.
He sees. He hears…
I’m going to come back to this in a moment…or two.
We think of miracles happening in big ways, in big places, in big blazes of glory to extra special people. Certainly not us. Probably not anyone we know. Glorious people. Big people. Special people. Admit it. Despite the stories, we imagine miracles happening in big, beautiful, special ways. To special people. People “more deserving than us”. People who aren’t ordinary and small and insignificant.
But…miracles happen in small ways in every moment of every day. There’s the miracle of a snowflake. The miracle of a bird in flight (maybe it’s not a “miracle”, but despite my better knowledge, I still think an airplane must be lifted by some sort of magic). The budding, blossoming, and blooming of a flower. A simple, insignificant single flower. PAUSE.
Miracles do happen in ordinary place. On a walk on a country road. In our kitchens and barns. In cars. In stables. In small, insignificant places to small, insignificant people. All the time. Maybe not big miracles, but a billion little miracles. I like to call them magic moments.
Little miracles are big, depending on who’s involved.
Big miracles are small, depending on who’s involved. PAUSE.
Miracles happening in kitchens, to women in seclusion. A little baby, or two. A mute man. A scared husband. Miracles.
Before Jesus is even born, the miracles are accumulating. So much so that some of the most beautiful canticles and Holy Spirit moments (magic moments) happen to the women and the disabled…from the very beginning of the gospels. Miracles and the Holy Spirit touching the weak and the marginalized. The poor. The small and insignificant people in small, insignificant places. CONSIDER READING THE CANTICLES.
The miracle isn’t just the Baby Jesus. But the small things made big through Love and Friendship. PAUSE. The very beginning of the gospels begin with the friendship and love between Mary and Elizabeth. A friendship between Jesus and John. Between loved ones: Elizabeth and Zachariah, Mary and Joseph.
Maybe Love and Friendship IS the miracle. Maybe Love and Friendship is the beginning. The foundation upon which everything else rests: compassion, nonJudgement, hope, faith, joy….peace….
The other day, on our walks, we started talking about the sign out front. All are Welcome. A sign of welcome, of friendship and love. It’s a very simple message, but profound. All are Welcome. Bring your confused, broken, battered, hurting, perfect, perfectly disabled, joyful, messy, busy, whatever life and be welcome and loved. We won’t judge you or try to fix you. We’ll just be with you through whatever journey you’re on.
We all feel ordinary, small, weak, and sometimes marginalized. It’s a human experience. We all feel different and unwelcome. It’s one of the worst feelings…not belonging.
We sometimes make people feel like they don’t belong. It’s probably not intentional. Often are response comes from not knowing what to do. Then we make things more awkward and more uncomfortable, by trying to fix what we don’t understand. Simply out of not knowing or rushing past (remember all that talking and gesturing in the beginning of this reflection) where we’re at because it’s uncomfortable and we don’t want to confront it.
Grief, death, illness, dying, anxiety, depression…people who are “different”. People we don’t understand. We don’t know how to respond. We haven’t practiced. It’s new.
Even Joy and Happiness. We often don’t know how to respond when others are joyful and happy. Our own emotions come up to trip us if we don’t slow down enough to process. It feels unfair. We feel envious. We become sad. Resentful. Feel un-special in comparison.
It’s simple really. PAUSE. THE Answer. Is simple.
Be with one another. Be with one another. The miracle is in love and friendship. Loving enough to become friends, to develop relationships with one another. Especially those who are different or uncomfortable to us. It’s the most wonderful way to grow: Love (everyone), Befriend those who represent things we don’t understand and fear. Get to know our fellow human beings.
First step is: all are (truly) welcome.
Second step: to truly sit with someone and sit without judgement. To ask and listen, even (especially) when we don’t understand and we’re confused. Accept our fellow humans exactly as they are. And let them know, we accept them, exactly as they are.
The most painful experiences in life are when…we aren’t welcome in a group. When we are excluded from love and friendship. When we’re not a “part”. Why would we do that to another human being?
We are mere mortals. We don’t have answers or Answers or often any answers. But we can love. We can be kind. We can be friends. We can welcome everyone.
Miracles happen, and inspiration happens, in small and insignificant and ordinary places. I am so inspired by our people here, in our congregation, on Zoom, our neighbors, our guests. Inspired by each and every one of you in your own way. I am awed and humbled by each and every one of you. I am in love with the way our collective gifts come together to build something…more. Something magical. Something miraculous.
I could tell stories of each of you, but that would be embarrassing, so I’ll return to Zachariah.
His neighbors don’t know how to respond to something out of the ordinary, different, fearful even! As simple (to us) as a name. They get awkward and uncomfortable. They start to rush through the uncomfortableness. They gesture and start speaking louder. Take a moment to imagine this….we’ve all our own versions of this… PAUSE. And imagine how it feels to Zachariah who is treated differently because he has one…disability…PAUSE.
Often no one means harm. They just don’t know how to respond. They rush and stop thinking. They treat him like he’s different, because they don’t slow down to be with in love and friendship…
Zachariah can hear. Zachariah can see. He doesn’t need gesturing or more volume. He just can’t speak, which is rectified with a single writing tablet.
The correct tools and practice.
The miracle is often simply to stop and offer love and friendship. To be with and to listen. To remember.
Love is for Now. Blessings are for Now. Friendship is for Now. Friendship is for Now. Now. Rejoice.