Monday, December 19, 2005

December 19

O sacred Lord of Israel
Who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
There are five stories in the Hebrew scriptures of women visited by messengers of God, and told they would bear children, either because of the decision of God, the promise of God, of their faithfulness to God: Genesis 16:7-16; Genesis 18:1-15; Judges 13:3-20; and 1 Samuel 1:1-20.

There are two in the New Testament, both in Luke.

At the naming of his son, Zechariah's tongue is loosened, and he sings:

Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel!
For he has turned to his people and set them free.
He has raised for us a strong deliverer
from the house of his servant David.

So he promised: age after age he proclaimed
by the lips of his holy prophets,
that he would deliver us fro our enemies,
out of the hands of all who hate us;
that, calling to mind his solemn covenant,
he would deal mercifully with your fathers.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,
to rescue us from enemy hands and set us free from fear,
so that we might worship in his presence in holiness and righteousness our whole life long.

And you, my child, will be called Prophet of the Most High,
for you will be the Lord's forerunner,
to prepare his way
and lead his people to a knowledge of salvation
through the forgivness of their sins;
for in the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
to shine on those who lie in darkness, under the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.--Luke 1:68-79, REB
Compare and contrast, if you prefer some relevance for this text. "God helps those who help themselves," would undoubtedly be the preferred cliche of a President who has vowed to do do whatever he wants "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens."

Zechariah's song is a song of faith fulfilled. Perhaps it is because Israel has the covenant. Perhaps it is just a question of faith; and faithfulness.

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