68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70 just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
73 the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued
from the power of our enemies
so that we could serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes,
for as long as we live.
76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion,
the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.”
This Sunday is the first of four Sundays in Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical or church year. We start Advent by reading Zachariah and Elizabeth’s story. Advent means “coming” and it reminds us to prepare for the coming of Christ and the new creation that He will bring. This is the long-awaited arrival of the risen Jesus, where death will be no more, war will cease and all of creation will be restored. Most of us think of Advent as the time we pause to remember and wait for the Christ child to be born. But Advent calls us to prepare for our future hope, to wait with longing and expectation, for the return of Jesus.
Zechariah had waited his whole life for the Messiah. But Zechariah didn’t believe the angel and was struck silent for his lack of belief in what God would do through them. He couldn’t believe the angel’s good news that he and Elizabeth would finally have a child. Zachariah and Elizabeth were people of faith. They believed in the coming of the Messiah and the promises God had made to their people, that God would send the Savior into the world to bring salvation to their people. They believed in God’s promise, they waited with longing, hope and expectation for what God would do. But they never imagined that their lives would play a part in preparing for the coming of the Savior, with the birth of their son John, who would become John the Baptist and prepare the world for Jesus.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Like Zachariah, we too are people of faith and believe in the promises of God; and we too have trouble believing that God can use us, mere humans, to prepare the way for Jesus to come again. We are called to prepare the way by following Jesus, loving others and sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus.
For us, Advent gets taken over and gets lost in the Christmas festivities. We celebrate the birth of Christ, by looking back, but we forget to look forward to that moment with longing, hope and expectation, when Christ will come again.
This Advent, don’t just look back at the manger, look forward to God’s promise that Christ will come again. God’s Spirit is alive in you, and you play a part in preparing the way for Jesus. How can you experience the longing, hope and expectation of Christ coming again in your life this Advent season? How are you preparing the way for Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, Savior of the World, Our hope is in you! We are longing and waiting with expectation for your return. Help us to prepare the way for you by loving others and sharing the good news of salvation. Amen.