Sunday, December 2, 2012
Breaking the Silence
Imagine a time when God spoke. He spoke through prophets and priests, through holy men and women. There was no question about what He wanted or how we were to act, respond, choose. There was a connection with the Divine.
And then, there was silence.
Where did God go? Did He die? Was He never real in the first place? Were those prophets and priests just charlatans? Did the people upset God and He went away?
The last words that God spoke were:
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
What does that mean? How long will it take? Will things be set right or will there be destruction?
The people couldn't know. There was only silence. An echo of the past words of God rumbling in their hearts. They were left on their own to figure out what to do. For 400 years, 20 generations, there was no word from God. No one alive had known anyone who God had spoken through.
When the past was past, God began something new. And it began with a silence.
A priest was chosen to burn incense in the temple. During his prayers, a voice of an angel spoke to him, telling him that he would have a son, a son who would bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God, that in the spirit and power of Elijah would turn their hearts and prepare them for the Lord.
The priest was incredulous. How could something like this happen when his wife was beyond her child bearing years?
The angel told him that because he didn't believe, he would have a sign: the priest would not speak until the day that it all came true.
This baby that the angel spoke of would be John the Baptist. He would be the voice calling out in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord. The long silence would be over. Both silences were ended with the cry of this baby-that of God and of his earthly father.
Sometimes we feel like we are back in that 400 years of silence. Sometimes we just don't want to hear, though, because hearing will force us to chose-God's way or the highway. Sometimes we don't want to hear because it makes us different.
To be holy is to be set aside, to be different. We are to break the silence for those who haven't heard. We are to be the prophets who cry out in the present wilderness, who call to those in the darkness, whose hearts are turned from God.
God still speaks. But He often uses us. Are you willing? Are you willing to break the silence of the night?