Lectionary reading for 12/2/2021: Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:5-12; Philippians 1:12-18a
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 1:68-79
Luke 1:68-79 (NIV)
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Zechariah’s song is not simply a way to announce the birth of his own child, or even God’s faithfulness to him and Elizabeth despite their barrenness. Zechariah’s hymn of thanksgiving declares that God’s faithfulness, salvation, and peace are for all people and for all time. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah rejoices in the work of God among God’s people, using words from the psalms: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalms 41:13, 72:18, and 106:48).
From everlasting to everlasting, God has been faithful and will be faithful, and we know that faithfulness most fully in the coming of Jesus Christ. Zechariah’s song is the message of Advent: The God of Israel has come to His people to redeem them. Immanuel, God with us! This is the powerful witness of who God is and what God does. God, who has been silent for centuries, is coming to His people as Jesus to save, redeem, and offer abundant life - from everlasting to everlasting.
Stricken mute because of his unbelief, Zechariah is able to speak again when he confirms that his child will be named John. The babe will grow to be a prophet of the Most High, announcing the presence of God in our midst and the promise of salvation from our sins. God’s long-awaited promise of a Savior is here - proclaimed by John and fulfilled in Jesus.
Zechariah’s testimony is an affirmation that God is trustworthy, tender, and merciful. He is the God who makes promises and keeps promises. Since the days of our ancestors, God has exhibited an abiding mercy that continues today to strengthen and guide each one of us to serve Him.
Our God is not a distant and aloof god, removed from the troubles and sorrows we experience. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God reveals how He personally experiences the pain of this world. God comes to us, seeks us, reaches out to us, and abides with us through Jesus Christ.
Prepare the way of the Lord! Let the time for silence and darkness be over. Let our voices be freed like Zechariah’s to sing praises to our God who has shown us mercy and saved us.
During this season of Advent, may we be mindful of those to whom we are called to announce with joy the coming of the Lord. May we not remain silent, out of fear or doubt or complacency, but robustly proclaim the love and mercy of Jesus.
Gracious Lord, we give thanks for Your son, Jesus, who has come to save and redeem us - shining light into the darkness of our world and guiding our feet into the path of peace. May our hearts be open this season to proclaim the good news of Emmanuel, God with us, to all that we meet. In the worthy name of Jesus, we pray.
About the Author
Dawn Holt Lauber is a Worship Pastor and Chaplain. She and husband, David, have three children. As a professional singer, Dawn first performed Duke Ellington’s sacred songs at The Riverside Church of New York City, and often leads worship with a sacred jazz band. She has several jazz recordings and is at work on a new one. www.dawnholtlauber.com