This week's Bible lesson asks a question: "Is the Universe, including man, evolved by atomic force?" The lesson develops an answer with many references to light vs. darkness. Everyone knows that no matter how complete and all-encompassing a dark room may seem, the moment you flip on the light switch, it fills with light. And not just for you, for everyone in the room. The darkness is powerless to resist it. Truth is like that, it can replace any darkness in your experience with a blaze of light that lifts you right out of the gloominess of illness or lack.
The lesson opens with a more spiritual view of the Nativity, the words froom John's Gospel. As if to remind us of our true spiritual origin, John uses the same three words that open Genesis One, "In the beginning..." He links Jesus with man made in the image and likeness of God; complete, whole, healthy, perfect. No birth, no death, just coexistence with divine Love. One Creator and one creation.
Gabriel, the archangel, is very busy. He visits with Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth. This pious elderly couple have prayed for many years to have a child but Elizabeth is barren. Gabriel comes to tell both of them that their prayers are about to be answered, despite the claim of barreness and their age. Do you feel that you have an insurmountable problem in your life? Can it be bigger than this one? Take heart, your prayer can also be answered. For Elizabeth, this would erase years and years of others thinking she is being punished by God. Zacharias has also been praying to see the promised Messiah appear in his lifetime. The Christ is available to each of us at all times and under all circumstances.
Gabriel's words seem to be true for Elizabeth appears to be pregnant. She goes into seclusion for five months, perhaps protecting herself from the comments of others who, thinking a pregnancy impossible, would speculate on what is growing inside her. Meanwhile, Gabriel has now visited with young Mary, engaged to Joseph but still a virgin. He tells her Elizabeth's news and that she also is pregnant. Mary goes to see her cousin. Before Elizabeth can say anything, Mary greets her, rejoicing in the baby. It is only then that Elizabeth feels the baby move within her. What a thrill, to know that this is really the child she has prayed for has growing within her. The one old enough to be a grandmother and the teen-aged girl spend the next three months together. I can only imagine their conversations! Mary doesn't stay for the birth of John. She may have begun to 'show' herself and needs to get back home. To Joseph, who is also visited by Gabriel, that he might believe that this is a holy child and Mary innocent of any wrong doing.
Gabriel continues to share the joyous news, next with shepherds, the simple people of Bethlehem who have been waiting and watching for the Messiah. They get to share in the first Christmas morning. Later he will speak with the Magi, a further protection for the holy family.
We can see how the Nativity evolved, like ripples on a pond. Think how that has spread from a tiny city in the Middle East around the globe. Have you gotten an angel messenger recently? Are you expecting one? Would you believe the message? Would all those doubts and fears try to convince you that such things are impossible? No matter what comes into your life in the form of a problem you think just can't be met, remember that nothing is impossible to God, divine Love. That He cherishes each of us.
This is the most wonderful time of the year. Spend a moment thinking about the Nativity. Go look at the stars. Listen for the sound of angels singing. Feel the wonder. Welcome the Babe we are to cherish.