Luke starts his Gospel story by telling us about an angelic visitation to both Zechariah and Mary. This visitation broke what was a 400 year period of silence where prophets and angels did not speak. Let's look at each of these stories:
Zechariah was a priest in the Temple of God in Jerusalem. When the angel appeared to him, he was told he and his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son who would be the one who would prepare God's people for the Messiah. This visitation of course freaked him out (how would you respond if an angel appeared to you?). While Zechariah is having his angelic encounter in the Temple, the people were waiting outside for daily prayer. "Why is he taking so long?"
It probably felt like when I'm waiting in the car for my wife.
When he did appear, he people could tell something had happened just by looking at his face. When he opened his mouth to speak, he was unable to talk.
Now to Mary: So God speaks through His angel again, this time to a young girl named Mary. And she freaked out. Imagine how shocking the news must have been to her! Since Adam, God's people have been awaiting the Messiah, God's Promised One...and she was just told she was going to be giving birth to him (and raise him). She knew her limitations, and I'm sure it made no sense to her that she had been chosen for this.
Here's where I'm going with this:
1] When God speaks, He speaks promise. He kept His word He would send a prophet to prepare the people for the Lord. He kept His promise that the Messiah would come. When God says He will do something, He will do it. He makes promises and keeps them. God's promise are not null and void over your life, even when you are in a time of waiting.
2] When God speaks, it is a gift. God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a son; God gave the world Himself. The Word of God is a gift. The Holy Spirit is a gift. Jesus is a gift. People have been convinced none of these things are a gift (so they are openly mocked), but we know God is a giver, and He gives underserved gifts!
3] When God speaks, it causes fear. Zechariah couldn't speak; Mary was deeply troubled. They were both initially afraid. After all, when scripture says, "He lifts His voice and the earth melts", one tends to freak out a bit when a word is received from God. We want the "feel-good" word of the Lord, but God's Word cuts through us. And like Zechariah and Mary, that initial fear gives way to peace and joy.
So what do we do when God speaks? Two choices, really: receive it or reject it. We reject it by undermining it, delegitimizing it, disregarding it, dismissing it, ignoring it. I'm impressed with the number of ways my kids have come up with to ignore each other. We are just as clever when it comes to what God says.
This is not the time to reject the Word of the Lord.
I expect our culture to reject what God has spoken, but I can't handle a church that does the same. When God speaks, He speaks promise. When God speaks, it is a gift to us. When God speaks, we should pay attention.
God is speaking. How are we responding?