Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”( Luke 1:67-79)
Today’s scripture recounts the prayer of Zechariah as he stood in the temple with his eight-day old son, soon to be named John.
But his prayer was not about his son but rather the Christ who was to come. Why? Because he had been made privy to the magnificence of God with the birth of his son.
With his wife Elizabeth and her cousin Mary of Nazareth, they pondered how all of God’s long-awaited preparation and promises were coming to fulfillment in the one Mary was carrying in her womb, in whose mission his son John would be inextricably bound. When he finally could speak again, he didn’t thank God so much for his own son — his long-awaited son for whom he and Elizabeth had prayed for so many years — but for his Savior!
His prayer illumines those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.
“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace “
Jesus had come into the world not only to save us through his mercy but to guide us to peace on earth for those of good will and to everlasting peace in heaven. Jesus is the Rising Sun and his light — his eternal “Light from Light” — shines in the midst of the greatest darkness and makes the darkest day of the year radiant.
Even when we’re walking through the dark valley of the shadow of death, Jesus comes to bring us into the kingdom of light so that we may follow his footsteps into the peace with God which is the heart of his kingdom and from which the “glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.
That news electrified Zechariah and so too should we.
Truth be told, it fills us at Christmas but, as we look around a week later, we see that its message falls on deaf ears – many deaf ears.
Because when those words only fill us at Christmas tide, when those words do not inculcate our lives, its because our hearts have been imprisoned. Simply put, we have given our hearts to a secular world. The world we live in, the world that surrounds us has sealed our hearts to the message of Christ. We have chosen to give it priority over our lives, our future and our dreams.
The dreams we have are tainted by the world of material things. Rather than to look to the Savior, we are encouraged to look elsewhere by politicians and the media. We don’t dream the words of Zechariah because they have become words written on ancient paper.
We like it that way. After all, to stand aside and say that road is not for me means we will be marked as “different,” “overly religious” and “not in touch with what matters.” So, we close the gates of the prison. We hear the noise outside but we prefer to not let it permeate our hearts.
Just as our God will never forget us, we too should take another opportunity to allow him to visit us.
He is our King and not just our King, but he is the long-awaited hope of all those looking for salvation from sin, from misery, from hardship, from suffering and death.
We turn to him whom we identify as “Lord, Our God” and ask him to come and save us from ourselves and from all our enemies, including the principalities and powers that always seek to harm us. That is what Christ has done. God has heard these incessant cries. He’s responded and he’s coming.
When he became man, he became the brother of us all.
Unlock the prison gates, open your hearts to his presence, live in the love and hope that only he can bring.
Merry, almost Christmas.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you have been gracious and merciful towards your people. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may bear witness to the joy of the Gospel to those around me.”
Like Zechariah, the Holy Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in the knowledge of God’s merciful love, protection, and care which he offers us through his Son Jesus Christ. Like the Baptist, we too are called to prepare the way that leads to Christ. Life is a journey and we are either moving towards the Lord or away from the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us each day with his life-giving Word and Spirit. Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed. He will draw them to himself and show them his love and mercy.