Scripture: Luke 1:67-80
Key verses: (78-79) “By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Reflection: As a boy I used to ride in our car along the roads of my home county in Southwest Virginia and see signs ominously declaring: Prepare to meet thy God! It was scary. And the fright was only added to when the boy who sat behind me in the fourth grade, after learning I was a Presbyterian, kept leaning over my shoulder and whispering loudly, “Are you ready for the judgment day?”
This ominous, stern god is still proclaimed in our culture. But is this the god who is born into our world at Christmas?
Did you hear Zechariah when he finally found his voice? Zechariah, the priest and father of John the Baptist, sang this song, our text for today, upon the birth of his son. He knew his son was the one who had been sent to prepare the way for God’s birth into the world. Yet this God for whom John the Baptist is to prepare the way — listen to the way Zechariah describes this God’s entry. “Tender mercy,” he says. That is how God comes — not in wrath, not to destroy, not in scary judgment, but in tender mercy.
Tender mercy. Think today about ways God has come to you in tender mercy. No scary roadside signs. No threats of devastating judgment. In tender mercy God creeps into this world beside us, bringing light to our darkness, lifting the terror of the shadow of death, guiding our feet in the way of peace, or whole-ness, or calm centeredness.
Tender mercy. Thank God today for coming to us in tender mercy. And may we all share that tenderness with one another.
Prayer: “Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” Amen.
Author: Pete Peery
[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].