God’s heartbeat echoes through the world and throughout history. It can be found in the ordinary and the extraordinary. So for example, when I stand up here to preach, I see the sign hanging at the back of the church – ‘unconditional love’. That for me is one of the signs of God’s heartbeat, a constant truth that sometimes we catch a glimpse of, but is always there, whether we see it at the time or not.
These three passages are also pointers to God’s heartbeat.
The promised land, ruled over by Kings David and Solomon, had been torn apart to form Israel and Judah. Religion had become a dirty word for the people when the prophets came to speak to both nations. The feeling in Judah was of disillusionment and disappointment. Micah picks up and magnifies God’s heartbeat, announcing that God has promised to bring in a new kind of ruler so that the people will have a new kind of relationship with their God.
And then travelling right to the end of the Bible, at the end of Revelation John again points to God’s heartbeat. The first verses are listing one Old Testament promise after another, so for example “I saw a new heaven and a new earth” comes from Isaiah 65. What God has promised will happen. We can trust this heartbeat, it won’t fail.
By the time of Luke’s Gospel, the Romans have destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, the people need to be called back to focus on the heartbeat of God. For Zechariah and Elizabeth, it was just not possible to have a baby at their age, and yet here in Zechariah’s prophecy we see again that God is faithful to his promises. The heartbeat is getting louder, the time is coming when all those promises from the Hebrew Bible are going to be fulfilled. Not yet … this isn’t even advent yet … but the birth of John who prepares the way for Jesus and his ministry.
We as a church are called to listen for God’s heartbeat in the world, and at specific times to magnify it and call others to hear it too. It is in the everyday, as we read each morning Zechariah’s prophecy in the Benedictus, in the words of the weekly eucharist, and then we celebrate it triumphantly at the festivals. And at times it is so difficult for us, because of our individual circumstances, or what’s in the world, to lift our eyes or strain to hear. And that is why we are a church, a gathering of people, working together. Between now and Christmas we wait, hearing the heartbeat getting gradually louder, knowing that God is the same God who was working through Micah, and John, and Luke. The same God whose heartbeat of love never ends and whose promises will be and have been fulfilled in Jesus.
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