Friday, December 27, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 355: Zechariah 10; Psalm 139; Luke 1

Salvation: Knowing God Knowing You
People can carry all sorts of negative labels in their lives. One, because I heard it on the news the other day, is that a person is "known to the police." I have a warden in my parish who is a police officer, and in some of our conversations, I have heard him allude to that appellation, and what it takes for someone to carry that label. To be known to the police is not just having an official record of misdoings. It is also to have a track record of making bad choices, getting second-third-fourth chances and blowing those and often just not having enough sense or even luck not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a sad estate, and a hard one to recover from, often taking the better part of a lifetime, discipline and resolve that might just be beyond a person's will or hope.

Still, knowing this police officer and his personal, faith-based approach to policing, I have heard him speak again and again of seeking out the good, the reasonable, the hoped-for positive trait that might give the person who is known to the police a chance to straighten out and fly right. He really does labor in his work to seek and serve Christ in all persons. Not an easy practice in the best of circumstances...and in his work, we can only imagine how much more difficult it might be.

And yet if we are to be people of faith, to be those who seek to follow a God who knows us, loves us and is concerned enough for us as to accomplish direct and incarnational salvation on our behalf, should we not also seek to know God (and God in our neighbors) to as close to the same degree as our will and strength might allow? We hear it in the words of the Psalm today...God seeks us out and knows us, from the depths and the high points of our lives. We are "known to God" is some pretty radical ways, and that being known means that we can't ever really and truly depart/mess up/screw up our relationship without God knowing and acting to repair our relationship with the Divine. God is always working on our salvation, for our behalf. The least we can do is be willing partners in that struggle!

Gabriel proclaims the Good News of John''s Birth
to the priest, Zechariah in the holy of holies
But even the best, most humble of us all from time to time don't quite measure up. Take Zechariah: the poor man gets personal, active and immediate confirmation that God is acting in his life and the life of his wife and soon-to-be-conceived son whom we will know shortly as John the Baptizer. He is promised that the herald of incarnation and salvation will be his son...and yet he stumbles, he trips over his own doubt and fear. His recompense is silence until the birth of his son. His restoration? That he can not only proclaim his son's name, but also to sing a song that blesses God for our salvation, for the gift of the promises fulfilled...for knowing us, utterly, lovingly, completely.

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