Personal Log of Gabriel, Messenger First Class, Trumpeter Second Class,
Advance Unit of the Assault Division, Armies of the God Who Is and Was and Is to Come
(also known as the “Heavenly Host”)
It feels like just moments ago that I was in Jerusalem, in the Temple, with a priest late in his career, letting him know that he might not want to plan his retirement quite yet. Yes, I may have gotten a bit rough on him, but I felt he needed to understand that there are lines one doesn’t cross.
The Boss didn’t feel that same way, and gave me a thorough dressing down, the kind somebody like me gets when he’s about to be taken out of the field and returned to desk duty. Except, I wasn’t. The Boss even suggested I could use the time to practice my trumpet . . . but instead, I guess, I was the recipient of some of that—what does the Boss call it?—grace.
So, the next thing I knew—well, it had been a good chunk of a year as humans count it, but we do things differently in eternity—I was in Nazareth, a no place town in the nowhere province of Galilee, talking to this teenage girl named Mary who is supposed to get married to a carpenter named Joseph. Everybody and their inbred cousin seems to be named Mary or Joseph in this day and age, so I have been sent to nowhere special to meet nobody special.
Well, nobody special who is in big trouble: I get to tell her she’s pregnant. And it isn’t Joseph’s. And, in this society, the way they deal with one surprise life is to end two lives; unmarried pregnant women are subject to being stoned to death.
Some days, I wonder why the Boss puts so much time into these people.
She may be a young nobody out of nowhere, but this girl has a head on her shoulders. I show up, wings and all (every time I go to Earth, I have to wear those ridiculous wings . . . blast that Isaiah), and she is nervous, sure—there is a reason the manual says the first three words spoken by a messenger in the field are always “Don’t be afraid”—but she doesn’t panic. She asks questions; good questions. Well, she asks how she could be pregnant, and I would have thought that her parents would have had that talk with her, but the rest of her questions are good, and I have to admit that the Boss has been a bit cagey about the particulars of this pregnancy.
What the Boss is clear about is that this is a special baby. This is the child of the Boss. How does that even work? Never mind the biology of it—part of my message for her is “Nothing is impossible for God—whatever happened to the free will stuff? What happened to their being some lines that one doesn’t cross? The plan seems really flaky and ill-considered where all this is concerned, but I get told that the Boss has been considering it all since before the beginning, and that it all has to do with love.
The love thing seems to make what should be cut-and-dried rules into what the humans would call situational ethics. Maybe it isn’t really quite that. After all, the justice of God is perfect, yet the mercy of God is endless. Somehow, the Boss, who is really quite adept with paradox, makes those two concepts co-exist. I have to keep remind myself of that sometimes. I have to keep the faith and let the Boss be boss.
This is hard enough for me, an angel, used to eternity and paradoxes and the impossible-to-understand corners of the mind and will of the God Who Is. I simply cannot imagine how this teenager is coping with all of it. A being she considers to be supernatural shows up at her door, and tells her a story about things that are either impossible or scandalous or both, things that could get her shunned, abandoned by her family and her fiancé, even killed. She is clearly afraid, clearly confused, clearly out of her depth, clearly saying “yes” to things she can’t possibly understand.
Maybe that’s how lots of teenagers get pregnant.
But she said “yes.” And she meant it. She has no idea what she is getting herself into, or why, but she believe it is of God—maybe the stupid wings are worth something after all. And she seems to have what it takes to stick with it. At least that’s what the Boss says.
This is a girl . . . a woman now, I guess . . . who bears some watching.
And, with all she is up against, she’s going to need it.