Scripture: Luke 1:1-25
Key verse: (19) “. . . I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.”
Reflection: The Gospel of Luke has some of the most beautiful narrative writing leading up to and including the familiar Christmas story. Beginning with today’s passage about Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke sets the stage for the ministry of Jesus. John the Baptist would prepare the way for Jesus. John was Jesus’ cousin. He was born about six months before Jesus to a very old couple. The angel Gabriel made this birth announcement in much the same way he would later announce Jesus’ birth to Mary. Zechariah was a good and faithful man who served as a priest in the Temple. While he was serving in the Temple, an angel appeared to him announcing that his wife Elizabeth would bear him a son who would, in time, turn many people back toward God. Later in Luke we are introduced to John the Baptist and his ministry. Today’s prediction of a miraculous birth (Elizabeth was past childbearing age) and the prediction of Jesus birth are back to back in this gospel. These pronouncements of joy set the tone for Luke’s gospel. God is at work in the midst of ordinary people going about their everyday lives. Zechariah was going about his duties as a priest. The last thing he expected was to hear this birth announcement about a baby who would grow up to turn people back toward God.
The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth reminds us that God hears our prayers and chooses to achieve God’s purposes through everyday people. The angel Gabriel didn’t appear to a King or a ruler. He appeared to one who didn’t expect to have his prayers answered. How often do we go through the motions of everyday life, including the motions of worship, not expecting anything to happen or for God to hear us and act? Advent give us the time and space to wait expectantly for God, to pay attention to what God is doing in our midst. The angel Gabriel might not appear to us the way he did for Zechariah, but as we prepare to celebrate Christmas “can we see in the birth of a child God’s continue affirmation of hope for the world”? God isn’t finished with us, yet. The announcement of John’s birth reminds us that each day we have the opportunity to look for and join in with God’s work in the world. God continues to come to everyday people with a message of hope and joy that we are called to share.
Prayer: Loving God, we are grateful that you choose us to be messengers of your hope. Help us look for the ways you are working in the world. Lead us to those people and places who seek justice and mercy. Break down our cynicism and break whatever has dulled our spirits to your saving grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[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].