When an angel shows up at your door all unexpected, with a sword at his side and your name on his lips, it means that something is about to change for good. And, whether you like it or not, you’re involved. This would shake the boldest of hearts.
How the knees of your heart must have knocked that day the angel of the Lord showed up at your house, and before you can even invite him in he’s already through the door and spilling out his message, saying words like ‘hail’ and calling you ‘blessed’—things you say to kings and princes, not to girls in Galilee.
And then ‘The Lord is with you’. That stops your heart for a beat. Or two. Because those are Words you don’t say lightly: The Lord and the With and the You. There is a heft and a weight to words like these. And in the moment all you seem to be able to do is stand there with your palms up to heaven, and struggle with the strangeness of his greeting…the weight of its meaning.
He says not to fear, right before telling you something that makes you more afraid than you’ve ever been. Telling you the impossible. Fleshing out just what he means by ‘The Lord is with you’— the kind of thing that would make Sarah laugh and Hannah cry.
You don’t laugh at the strange wonder of his announcement, nor do you cry from the fright of it. For a moment you hold up the only thing you’ve got, your only impediment: your virginity. Not knowing just how important it is to his plan. And it’s going to happen, and it’s happening is the Lord’s doing, so what are you to do, but do the thing that was hiding beneath Sarah’s laugh, and within each one of Hannah’s tears: ‘I am the Lord’s servant’ you say. There is a weight to words like these. They are heavy with consequence.
The Lord is as good as his word, and it starts to make sense what the angel meant by those words. Your waist thickens with them. The skin of your belly stretches tight with them. And you find your hands hovering protectively over the baby in your belly. Your own and not your own. You feel the sharp point of a sword begin its piercing of your heart.
The Lord puts a song in your heart and his words on your lips. And you sing. Because if there was ever a time to sing, it’s now.
For the countdown of days to his coming begins. And he will come. Your growing belly testifies to it. The countdown to God’s rescue for his people promised in the Garden just after it all came to grief. The rescue from the dark reign of sin and death, there, within the melody of every song, within the hope of every story. The dread of exile, the yearn for freedom, the heart’s desire for a country called Home and its eternal King, all have their End in Him, the boychild growing in your belly. The Mighty Hand of God revealed. But not like you thought it would be, with a flashing sword, and an army of soldiers. Instead, in the tiny flailing fist of a baby Boy.
You wonder at the puzzle of it. Not that he would come, for he always said he would. But that he would come like this. So weak. The humility of it. The humanity of it. That God would take on such small flesh. Flesh so small, you can hold him in your hands, in the crook of one of your arms. His small hand will curl around one of your fingers.
This is the day of Small Things. Where Small Conquers All. Where a tiny baby born has the power in his small fist to rule the world.
You listen in the silence, with the ears of your heart, and you hear deep from the secret place within, the throne room of the Lord Most High, the pulse of a beating heart.
The heart of the One for whom and through whom and by whom the world was made…beats. For you. For us.
It’s beat testifies to his coming and walking with us. With Eyes that See. Ears that hear. Hands that touch. Feet that run in the dust. And a tongue that tastes, and teaches us to taste and see that the Lord is good. His love endures forever.
One like us, who will live like us. Each beat of his human heart bringing him another second closer to the moment of his death. Dying as one of us. Dying for us.
The Rose blooms. His perfume envelops us.
The Figtree blossoms. His canopy of shade invites us.
Water streams in the Desert. Within him our thirst is quenched.
The blood of the Lamb, pulses through the chambers of the Christchild’s heart. Here. With us. God has a heartbeat!