Friday, December 17, 2010

God Works Through Ordinary People

The Gospel appointed for the Eucharist on this Friday in the third week of Advent is Luke 1:5-25. In this passage, the angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth will have a son: John the Baptist. Bishop N. T. Wright offers some commentary on the passage that reminds us of a central biblical truth: God's extraordinary promises and purposes are fulfilled by ordinary people.

"The story would remind any Bible reader of much older stories: Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21), Rachel bearing Jacob two sons after years of childlessness (Genesis 30; 35), and particularly the births of Samson (Judges 13) and Samuel (1 Samuel 1). This story, Luke hints, is not a strange new thing, but takes its place within a long-standing sequence of God’s purposes. ... This story, preparing us for the even more remarkable conception and birth of Jesus himself, reminds us of something important. God regularly works through ordinary people, doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind. The story is about much more than Zechariah's joy at having a son at last, or Elisabeth's exultation in being freed from the scorn of the mothers in the village. It is about the great fulfillment of God’s promises and purposes. But the needs, hopes and fears of ordinary people are not forgotten in this larger story, precisely because of who Israel’s God is – the God of lavish, self-giving love, as Luke will tell us in so many ways throughout his gospel. When this God acts on the large scale, he takes care of smaller human concerns as well. The drama which now takes centre stage is truly the story of God, the world, and every ordinary human being who has ever lived in it."

~ N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (2004)

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