Gabriel’s visits by James Archer

This is a monologue in several parts.  Gabriel stands at the front and addresses the audience. 

I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God Most High, to whom be glory and praise for ever, worshipping night and day. He sometimes sends me as His ambassador to carry messages to His people.  The busiest time was when His One and Only Son, to whom be glory and praise for ever, was planning to visit them Himself.

 

My first visit was supposed to be the easiest, but it didn’t turn out that way.  A message of joy, the answer to his prayers over many years, to a holy man of God, in the house of God, at the time when he had consecrated himself to go into the Most Holy Place to meet with God – what could be simpler?

 

He slipped in through the curtain carrying the incense, and I was standing there to the right of the altar.  When he saw me, he froze like a rabbit caught in headlights and almost dropped his censer. 

 

“Do not be afraid, Zachariah,” I reassured him, “I bring you news of great joy.”  He just stared at me, so I went on.  “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.  He will be a joy and a delight to you.” 

 

He was still just standing there with his mouth open.  I didn’t think he was ready to take in any details, so I waited quietly, smiling at him in encouragement.  There was a long pause. 

 

Eventually, he stammered, “H… h… how can I be sh… sh… sure of this?” 

 

It was my turn to be speechless – how could he, a man of God, have so little faith?  “If you need proof,” I replied, “then you can have it.  I have been sent by Almighty God, to whom be glory and praise for ever, to bring you good news, and you did not believe it. So now you will be unable to speak until my words are fulfilled.  Now – hear the rest of the message, which will most certainly come true.  Many will rejoice at John’s birth, for he will be great in God’s sight.  He is never to drink wine or other fermented drinks, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.  He will bring many of the people of Israel back to the Lord their God.  He will walk before the Lord in the power and spirit of Elijah, turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and converting the disobedient to embrace the wisdom of the righteous – he will make the people ready for their Lord.”

 

And with that, I spread my wings and left him to face the music, alone.

 

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I was more nervous about my second visit.  If an experienced man of God was such hard work, how would I get on with a teenage girl?  I waited for her in her garden when her parents were out. 

 

“Greetings!” I said, “you who are highly favoured.  The Lord is with you.”

 

She looked at me, puzzled, so I reassured her: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.  You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.”

 

“Hang on a minute,” she replied, “I’m not even married yet.  How is this going to happen?”

 

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” I replied, “and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”  She smiled at me in amazement. “Think of your cousin Elizabeth – she is six months pregnant in her old age, for nothing is impossible with God.”

 

“I understand,” she replied, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May what you have said come true.” 

 

“Congratulations!” I smiled at her as I left.

 

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My third visit was the most straightforward.  I suppose it should be easier if it’s in a dream.  It had taken him hours to get to sleep as he was tossing and turning, so I had to wait until he was out. 

 

“Joseph,” I said.  He rubbed his eyes and stared, so I started again.  “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 

I knew I had said enough, and left him to his dreams.

 

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My fourth visit was the most fun.  It was a pretty special occasion, so the full gospel choir came along to celebrate.  It was night-time out in the fields, so I turned the lights on – I hadn’t realised it would scare them out of their skins.  “Do not be afraid,” I said, “I bring you good news of great joy for all people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you – He is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you – you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger!” 

 

At this, the choir burst into song, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards all people, on whom his favour rests!”

 

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There were four further visits, all in dreams – I’d worked out by now that this was the best method of communication.  One to the wise men to keep them away from Herod, and three to Joseph to give him practical directions – first to flee to Egypt in the middle of the night, and then to bring him back to Nazareth.  I knew by then that the child was in good hands, and that I wouldn’t need to visit again for quite some time.

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