Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation
“We are going to name him ‘God-Is-Gracious.’” That was the answer Elizabeth and Zechariah gave when asked what they were naming this miracle baby given to them in their advanced years. John is how we say it, but the name hails from two Hebrew words that means “YAHWEH is gracious.”
The relatives were perplexed because no one in Elizabeth’s or Zechariah’s family had this name. Zechariah wrote it out without being able to say it. Until that moment, he had been unable to speak (as we shared yesterday), but upon writing out the name of unspeakable grace, he suddenly burst into a poetic fountain of words. The experience was no longer an experience without words; Zechariah could do nothing but speak and prophecy!
And his prophecy was all about grace.
Some have heard me say this, but it was early in my life that I learned about grace. Having been born into Methodism, I was fortunate to have several pastors who focused on this unique and primary theological principle. While there has always been an expected ethic related to how we live our lives, I have never been under the impression that salvation was something based on my own merit. I was taught that even my own ability to live ethically is the product of a gracious God.
So I was just starting off in ministry and was looking at how I would sign off on any of my correspondence. It seemed expected that clergy needed something more religious sounding than the customary “sincerely” placed above our names. I know people who use all different sorts of closing salutations, but mine seemed natural. It was all about grace, and to this day it is how I close my correspondence. When signing actual letters (which still happens on occasion), I tend to loop the cursive “J” around the word as my way of acknowledging that the only way for me to live out my life of faith is through grace that dwells in me.
This blog is called Reflections on Grace: Living Only in the Shadow of Grace. Everything in my life is hinged on this grace in all its forms.
So, in my mind, Zechariah had it right. The gift that leads us to the Christ alive in our world is grace. The way we find our way through the darkness is by grace. The way we find our voices is through grace. And when grace is incarnate … made alive in us … there is simply no way to keep silent.
God of abundant grace: May we experience your grace anew as we find our way through the darkness to the place where Christ is born. Amen