By the Tender Mercy of our God (181)

[Luke 1:68-79; Luke 3:1-6]

Some time before, Zechariah had drawn the short straw. He had been chosen by lot to carry out the priestly duties in the most holy, and most dangerous, part of the temple.

Different time and different culture, but this time of year we see fellows who have drawn the short straw too. They are the ones in the Christmas parade carrying the shovels, following the horses.

It was different for Zechariah. For him drawing the short straw may have meant that his colleagues clipped bells to his robe and tied a rope to his leg. If the bells stopped ringing his colleagues knew he had been struck dead and had to be pulled out by the rope. As it happened, Zechariah was not struck dead. He did, though, have a strange encounter. He saw an angle. The angle said that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son. This son would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Continue reading “By the Tender Mercy of our God (181)”

The Gentle Future of Wolves (119)

I once worked for a college program that focused on developing students’ leadership skills. We used the wilderness as our classroom. In the fall semester students were encouraged to spend 24 hours camping alone. tentAfter the experience was over we would gather together and talk about how things went. Most students described about grappling with fear or loneliness. The silence bothered some. I remember one student, who wasn’t particularly anxious going into the experience, sharing how he woke up in the morning to find his campsite circled by the tracks of a mountain lion. There is something unnerving about that thought: it’s the switch from thinking about the food chain to thinking of ourselves within it. It’s a very basic, very primitive feeling of vulnerability.   Continue reading “The Gentle Future of Wolves (119)”