And so we begin the season of advent, the coming of Jesus. And I begin a season of thoughts and meditations on Jesus’ coming and the promise that He offers.
I love this time of year and find it an excuse to indulge in the riches that it holds.
I will start the journey in the book of Luke.
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 call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah is a priest who has given his life to serve the Lord. In his heart he held sadness and disappointment, for he and his wife had longed for a child. They lived with the stigma of being childless, it is difficult to imagine what this would have been like unless you too are childless. But it was even more of a stigma in those days than it is now. To be without a child was seen by some as divine disfavor and to make matters worse they were both advanced in years.
An impossible situation.
We all have them, somewhere, but impossible situations call for divine intervention.
We find Zechariah’s division on duty and on this particular day he was serving the Lord, and then God breaks in. Was he expecting it? I doubt it. But an angel appears, one of the ‘do not fear’ ones, and tells him that his prayer has been heard. At this time, Israel is far away from the promises of God, God had been silent for 400 years. In his perfect timing God speaks. An answer to the prayer of an elderly couple desperate for a child is the begining of the coming of the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
It begins with prayer and a God who hears the cries of our hearts. Whatever our situation, all things are possible with God. God hears.