Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nativity: Gabriel

5"x7" Oil on Canvas

"Do not be afraid."

Those are the words from the angel, Gabriel, every time he appears to people in the Nativity stories. Being visited by one of God's messengers can be a frightening event indeed. When we realize we are in the middle of a God-moment, our shortcomings become abundantly clear. We are faced with the reality that God is God and we are not. This reality stirs us at our core and brings us to our knees in humility.

"God is coming!" That is the essence of Gabriel's message. That message swells up in us both great excitement and great fear. God is coming to interrupt our plans—to stir us from our comfort zones—to call us to a life of faith. We are afraid. Afraid of change. Afraid of what people will think. Afraid of our inadequacies. Afraid of failure. 

But Gabriel says, "Do not be afraid." Those words can embolden our faith today, much like it did for Joseph and Mary. Gabriel's words comfort us by reminding us that this is Good News. The God that calls us is Emmanuel—"God with us." The God who is coming into our lives is GRACE and LOVE.  In his song "Emmanuel," Michael Card blends two very different scriptures into a common truth:

"Emmanuel—our God is with us. And if God is with us, who can stand against us?"

This painting of Gabriel is the most abstract of the pieces in this Nativity project. Gabriel bears the star of bethlehem like a torch of enlightenment. His wings are transparent—for angels (human or not) live among us unseen unless we are looking with eyes of faith. He kneels in the presence of "God with us." In this series, Mary and Joseph are a mix of bewilderment and wonder. Gabriel knows the reality of this God-moment all too well. It is a reality that brings even angels humbly to their knees.

If you look and listen with your heart, 
you might just discover the angel's message speaking to you today:

"Ready or not, God is here—calling you to be a person of faith. Don't be afraid."


Here is a link to a video featuring "Emmanuel" by Michael Card. The song is performed by the Choirs of school children from Cheshire and the Wirral. It is a wonderful reminder that we are not alone in our calling. Rather, we are a community living out our response to God's calling.

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