Author: Joe Clifford
Scripture: Luke 1:1-25
Key verse: (18) “How will I know that this is so?”
“How will I know?” When I hear these words, I’m embarrassed to admit that my mind turns to that 1980’s classic by Whitney Houston, “How will I know the he really loves me?” The chorus is:
How will I know if he really loves me
I say a prayer with every heart beat
I fall in love whenever we meet
I’m asking you ’cause you know about these things.
I’ve never thought about this 80’s pop song theologically. That was certainly not the song’s intent. Yet it is the question at the heart of our reading for today from Luke 1. “How will I know that this is so?” That’s Zechariah’s question to the angel Gabriel after Gabriel tells him Elizabeth is going to have a baby, and he is to be named, “John,” and that he will be a great prophet, and call many to turn to God.
How will I know? That’s the question many ask in response to the gospel of God’s love in Jesus Christ. How will I know that God really loves me? Luke writes his gospel to, “most excellent Theophilus,” “to present an orderly account…so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you’ve been instructed.” That’s the goal of Luke’s gospel — so that we may know.
It’s written to Theophilus. Some scholars suggest this was a gentile court official. Others point out that the name consists of two Greek words: “theos” and “philia.” The name translates to “Lover of God.” Perhaps the gospel is written so that all those who love God may know the truth — through this amazing story. Yet with Zechariah, we can still wonder, “How will I really know?” We can read the gospel. We can be taught the things concerning Jesus. But how do we really know?
At the heart of the Christmas story is the conviction that we know God’s love because that love became in incarnate in Jesus. He is God’s love lived out. That’s the ultimate truth about love. We know we are loved by another when that love is lived out in real ways. Our very existence is a gift of love from God. Every breath we take is a gift of love from God. Every loving relationship we know, within our families, among our friends is a gift of love from God. God shows us love every single day. Our faith asserts that God’s ultimate gift of love is coming among us, living our life, facing our challenges, knowing our struggles, enduring our pains, facing even death, so that all of us might know love. That’s love lived out. That’s how we know.
To quote the great poet — theologian, Whitney Houston, “I say a prayer with every heart beat;” a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of love we know in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord. Every beat of my heart is a reminder of the gifts you give me. Help me live in response to your love by loving you with all I am, and loving my neighbor as myself, that all may know the depth of your love for this world. In the name of your love lived out, Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].