Advent with Gabriel: Hope

This is intended to be performed as a monologue for the first week of Advent:

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you” – no that doesn’t sound right. “Greetings.” Clears throat. “Greetings. Behold, you will conceive and bear a son” I’ve delivered a lot of messages in my lifetime. More than you can imagine – most of them have never been recorded, not even in your holy text. But this message, this new message I’ve been practicing is confounding even for me: the ever-watchful Gabriel, one of the 7 archangels of heaven.

“Behold, you will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.” Jesus, such an ordinary name. Why Jesus? I will never understand my Creator. I would think a much more triumphant, extraordinary name would be better. “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

A kingdom without end. Can you even imagine? I asked Michael if he could fathom it – if anyone of us could, it would be him. But he stared at me, shocked. “That’s the message of the Lord?” He asked. Don’t look at me like that – let me explain. I don’t doubt God’s reign. I live for it. I live in it. I live as an extension of it. But this message of an unending kingdom is going to a human. A teenage girl who lives in Nazareth of all places. A teenage girl who is a part of a broken earthly world that no longer connected to the life that I’m a part of. A life intrinsically meshed with God.

Yet this message – this new message that I’m going to deliver says this coming Kingdom will have no end! No end. I have been around for a long time – longer than you. Longer than your race! You created on the sixth day – yet I was here on the fifth. I was here on the day that the Lord inhabited the skies with creation. I was there to enjoy all his blessings for eons before your ancestors were created.

Unfortunately, that means I was also there when humanity was corrupted, when evil came over the world. I was there to see that no man was righteous save for Noah. I was there when God drowned out the earth. Such hopelessness! I was there when Abraham made a covenant with God – yet over and over he messed up and never trusted in this beautiful, but hard-to-grasp promise.

And that’s how I came to deliver my first message from the Lord. I was so young then – have I really aged so much? Her name was Hagar. And she was running away from her life. She was pregnant, confused, not wanting to listen to her matriarch, Sarah. She was my first assignment – and I can still see her weeping by a spring of water – and I told her that she would bear a son and that she should return home to Abraham’s camp and raise him there. It wasn’t the most hopeful message – for the situation was created in distrust and sin. But still, God was there, and he gave hope to a young woman who was lost in her own interests. And I delivered the message that brought her back to God. So, I guess there was hope in it. But alas, Hagar didn’t stay around forever. She didn’t obey the message. So that’s how my first message of hope became – forgotten.

Oh those were interesting times. God was making something new back then – he was calling a single family to create a nation. This is why I was sent to save Lot and his whole family from Sodom! Evil was breeding there and I was invited into his house! But alas, when I tried to get them out I told them not to look back – and she did. Lot’s wife did. And my hopeful message literally turned to salt in the wind.

It was me who proclaimed to Abraham to stop the knife from killing Isaac. There was hope in that message too. The lineage of the God’s promise would continue! I think it was the most hopeful message I had ever given. But . . . even this lineage was forgotten. Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Joseph. And then the people forgot who Joseph was and the God that he served. So again, I was commanded to give another message.

I appeared to Moses as a bush that did not burn. I must confess, that was my least terrifying physical appearance. Michael still laughs about it. “A shrubbery” he says. “You were the voice of God as a shrubbery”. But I made up for it shortly afterward when I appeared as pillar of fire! I guided the people of Israel by night as they excited the land of Egypt and out of the Red Sea. So much unbridled hope! There was so much promise that the people of God had then.

But not too long after, I appeared to Balaam on the road and he didn’t recognize me. It was only his donkey that saw who I was, an angel of the Lord! Such a stiff-necked people. Again and again, I deliver divine messages – so full of truth and light. So full of God! God must have known that if he delivered them himself the race of men would die. He is too Holy – and you are so . . . profane.

But this new message I’ve been practicing is different. Now it seems that God himself is interested in becoming one of you profane people. I can feel a shift coming. I can feel something coming. Something thrumming with life – a life that I have not felt since I was in the Garden of Eden.

This is so similar to the message I came Manoah – Samson’s mother, yet her child was not the Son of God, but I can remember the words: “Behold, you are barren and have no children yet you shall conceive and bear a son!” She was so excited- she had such hope! It shone through her eyes! “He shall drink no wine and no razor shall touch his head”. Samson was so promising! He accomplished so many things, God’s people did so well. But alas – it seems that hope never lasts. His story may have had a climatic ended – but it ended nonetheless.

I can’t even number the amount of times that God stopped me from interving with your corrupt kings: the lineage of David. And in many ways those days felt just like the days of Noah. I was very silent then. I simple watched from afar, getting more and more tired of what I was seeing. Wishing more and more that I could live in the throneroom of heaven and forget the race of men. God sent me out of my stupor when I saved Elijah from Jezebel. It was me who fed him and kept him alive.

And when the monarchy continued to ignore God, it was me who delivered God’s messages of warning to the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the rest. So as you can imagine. I’m tired. I’m not tired of my Lord. Oh no! My name is Gabriel. I am the mighty prevailer belonging to God. How could I ever be tired of Him? I love this life, I love Him. I love all that he has made me. But do you? Do you have hope in your Lord because I’m tired of delivering message after message to a people who never hold on to the hope they have been given.

Maybe this new girl will be different. I think Mary will be afraid – I will do my best to go gentle on her – I’ll take on a physical form of a human, unimposing – for she has found favor with God. I think Joseph will panic, when it is time to talk to him. But I will be able to calm him. But what about you?

But what will you do when you hear it? That’s what I wonder. Where are you hopeless? Are you barren like Manoah? Do you desire children, and you hate that one more Christmas is going by without them? Are you running from something like Elijah? Is your marriage in shambles like Hagar? And you want to get through this season so you can move on. Are you constantly rebelling like the sons of David? Yet all the while thinking that you and God are solid, that there is nothing that stands between the two of you? Are you chronically sick and suffering like the people of Israel in Egypt. Has God promised you something, but hasn’t delivered? just like Abraham.

I’ve been around a long time, a lot longer than you. I’ve seen it all before. And I’m tired. But maybe, you might be tired too. I don’t know. Thanks for listening to my musings but I have a message to proclaim. Move to the back and face away from the audience to declare:

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his Kingdom there will be no end. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God.” Came back to face the audience.

Did you hear my message too? Soon, the whole of creation will know! How I wish Noah could have heard it! How I wish Hagar would have known it! If Abraham would have heard it – to see his hope complete! And Moses, and Manoah, King David – to see his line redeemed. And Elijah and the prophets! For their hope – their incomplete, imperfect, tattered and weather-worn hope is coming. Your incomplete, imperfect, tattered, and weather-worn hope is coming.

Will you wait and watch with me? Hope is coming. Will you anticipate with me? He is coming.

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