In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. --Luke 1:5-13
The Christmas story is filled with sub-narratives of God's surprising grace.
Here, in the first chapter of Luke an older couple who are good people but have no children receive an astoundingly good promise. Though they imagined their lives as ending childless, forgotten and no one to take care of them when they cannot take care of themselves, God wants to give them a wonderful son in their old age. A son who would announce the Christ!
God still gives in surprising ways to people who have given up, imagine they've got to settle for less, that they've got to live in the mess they've made of things.
This Advent, hear the angel's words fresh for you--"Do not be afraid; your prayer has been heard!"
Labels: advent, Christmas, grace, hope, prayer, spirituality, Sunday themes