Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day 9: Luke 2:9

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. -Luke 2:9

We can get really comfortable with practicing our religion.  We go to church, pray before each meal, give 10% of our income in the collection basket and read our bible every time we feel like we need guidance.  The more schooled of us find stability in our catechisms and systemic theologies.  We cling to our morality and virtues and treat our relationship with God as if it were ruled by some sort of predictable cause and effect relationship.  When we're comfortable with our religion, then we feel at peace with God.  

Christians can be be extremely protective of this comfort and peace.  Everything about their faith is safe, understandable and predictable.  They look honorable and respectable to everyone around them, and that is proof enough that they are doing this Jesus thing the way they are supposed to.

Everything seems stable and right...until an angel of the Lord shows up and night sky breaks open and reveals the devastatingly glorious reality of a realm beyond our own so beautiful and so infinite we destroyed down to our very core.

What the shepherds saw that night wasn't just awe inspiring, like a meteor shower or even the Aurora Borealis.  It terrified them.  What they saw made them feel vulnerable and scared.  It made them feel tiny.  It made them feel at the mercy of whatever it was they saw.  Strapping, rugged men suddenly were overwhelmed by their frailty.  And what is amazing is the thing that made them feel that way wasn't ugly or nightmarish.  It was enchantingly and unspeakably beautiful.

Any time we get a glimpse into the spiritual world, at least while we live on the earth, a big part of us will be terrified.  It will rip away any facade we have built for ourselves, or any coping mechanisms, and it will reveal how tiny we are, how little we know about our world and how we are totally at the mercy of our Lord.  It will assault our worldly sensibilities, make us worry about what other people, especially other Christians, think of us.  It will make us question ourselves and our understanding of who we are and who God is.  

Unfortunately, many of the "religious" things we do cloud our vision of the spiritual and end up lulling us into a spiritual sleep.  We think God is about going to church and reading our Bible and saying grace before meals and we lose sight of the fact that those are just a means to an end and that end is something terrifying to the earthly part of who we are.  Getting a glimpse into the spiritual world will shake up every part of us that is not of God.

There are Christians, myself included, who believe they have seen angels, demons or even Jesus Himself.  There are Christians who have seen miracles, not just coincidences that someone could explain away, but who have seen the supernatural do a miraculous and explainable work in our world.  There is a huge risk in believing what they have experienced is real, because to maintain the peace and status quo in the lives of some, they have to avoid any and all mention of anything supernatural.  Their terror would overwhelm them and the lives they have created, especially their religious lives, would crumble to the ground.

Today, and during the rest of this Advent season, pray that you see something along the lines of what the shepherds saw, a glimpse into the spiritual world.  Maybe God will reveal it to you as a miracle or a prayer miraculously answered.  Maybe it will be through a prophetic word from God, either in scripture or given to you by someone else.  Maybe you will see an angel or demon (pray that it is an angel!).  Beg God to shake you up by showing you what is beyond this earthly world.  And practice sharing about it by telling another person about your experience.

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