Author Topic: For Advent Devotions: Luke 1  (Read 487 times)

Weedon

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For Advent Devotions: Luke 1
« on: December 13, 2018, 06:50:50 PM »
Zechariah
 
I had been raised well.  My parents, bless their souls, had taught us to fear the Lord and to walk in his ways.  They told us the story of God’s dealings with us, His people, the Jews.  They told us of Abraham and Sarah.  They told us of Moses and Elijah.  They told us most of all about the coming of the Promised One who would bring an end to sorrow and death and restore all things to what they were created to be at the beginning.  They told us.  And we believed.  I believed.  I, Zechariah, of the house of Abijah, a priest from a family of priests.  I believed and so I waited. 
 
But waiting is wearying and I had grown old as I waited.  I began to suspect that I would go down to the grave still waiting - no promised one in sight.  Little did I know.  Little did I know.
 
The day arrived when it was my turn to do the priest’s duty in the great temple of my people in Jerusalem.  I had done it before and it was always an honor, but only once in a priest’s life did the opportunity come to go beyond the big altar in the courtyard and actually enter the sanctuary, the holy place and there offer the sacred incense - sign of the prayers of the people of God ascending to the throne of God.  It was my turn and I was filled with joy and holy fear.  Soon, soon, I would be standing only feet away from the most holy place, the holy of holies.  Soon, soon, I would be spreading the coals and then sprinkling the incense upon them, watching it rise even as the prayers of God’s people rise to the throne of heaven.
 
And my prayer?  I did not speak my prayer.  It is a terrible thing to have your only prayer be a regret.  But that was my prayer:  “I am sad, God, that you have given me no child, no son.”  That was the prayer that was in my heart as I stood before the altar and spread the coals with the shovel and then sprinkled the incense.  That was my prayer.   It was hidden in my heart.  Or so I thought.
 
Then he stood beside me, a great Angel of the Lord, a messenger from God most high and I was terrified.  I had heard of these messengers all my life.  I think that I had believed in them all my life, but I was not prepared to meet one.  Stepping out of the sacred stories and crossing right into my life.  I was not prepared for that at all.  But there he stood nonetheless.
 
And such words he spoke.  He told me that God had heard my prayer and that it was granted.  I was going to have a son - a son who would bring me joy and gladness.  And not only me, but many people.  A son who would be like the Nazarites of old, consecrated to God from the womb.  A child filled with the Spirit of the Most High even in his mother’s womb. 
 
Can you understand what it was like for me to hear that?  I was suddenly confronted with God moving out of the story and into my life and giving me what I didn’t even dare to hope for anymore.  I doubted.  I couldn’t believe it.  I questioned.  My trust wavered and I began to wonder if I had ever really believed at all before.  I said:  “How will I know this?  I am an old man.  My wife is old - beyond the years of child-bearing.   It’s impossible.  It just can’t be.”
 
Have you ever seen an angel get riled, get mad?  Let me tell you, it is not a comfortable sight.  Seems that nothing angers them so swiftly as our not believing.  They just don’t understand it.  They have been with God for so long and they have never known a word He spoke not to come true.  To them He is utterly and completely reliable and so they grow impatient with our foolish distrust. 
 
He riled himself up; He grew in power and might before me and I covered my eyes in fear as his might was unveiled.  I think for a moment I must have seen him, this mighty angel, as he appears before the throne of God.  A being of beauty that hurts our eyes to look at, a being of goodness so great that we suddenly feel ashamed.  He said:  “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God.  I was sent to bring you these glad tidings!  Behold, you do not believe!  You want a sign.  A sign you shall have.  You shall be mute, unable to speak, not even a word, until these things take place, for you did not believe my words which most certainly will be fulfilled at their time.”
 
And then he was gone.  The smoke of the incense that hand hung heavy in the air had long since lifted, but the sweet smell lingered in the room.  I don’t know how long it took, but it must have taken awhile.  I went out from the sanctuary and looked at the puzzled, upturned faces.  They didn’t know why I had been delayed and now they couldn’t understand why I didn’t given them the blessing.  And I couldn’t tell them.  I made signs and finally they began to understand that something awesome had happened to me in that room.
 
I went home, a man silent and yet my heart was bursting for joy.  And it happened, just like God had said through the angel.  It happened.  Impossibly.  Miraculously.  God had stepped out of the story and into my life and suddenly my life was like the story.  It was Abraham and Sarah all over again.  It was Elkanah and Hannah all over again.  God was doing it again.   An old couple, unable to have children, suddenly giving birth.
 
You who live in the time of the great fulfillment, you who live in the aftermath of those days, will you trust an old man who says to you to watch out!  The story is more alive than you imagine.  Don’t ever underestimate the power of God to step right out of the story into your life and then pull your life right back into the story.  I know whereof I speak.  For my child, wondrous as he was, was but the Fore-runner.  The Greater One came a few months later.  I first met Him when His mother walked into my house and my Elizabeth shouted for joy. The waiting was then at an end.  He came into my world and He comes into your world.  He comes to bring the joy and destroy the sadness, just as the prophets said he would.  He shuts the mouth of unbelief!
 
Watch out for Him, my friends!  Watch out for Him!  This God who comes to be one flesh with you and to suffer and die and to rise and bring life indestructible and joy eternal to you and to all people.  Watch for Him, for He comes.  He comes - and your lives will never be the same again.

Gabriel

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel...”

I stand amazed before the Maiden, and she looks in amazement at me. But my amazement is greater than hers. She is amazed at my appearing to her but I am amazed at the tidings I bring her. For she shall be a mother, though she knows not a man. She shall conceive in her womb and bring forth a son, though a virgin she shall be and remain. But it is who her son will be that fills me with greatest awe. For this Child that shall be born of her shall truly be hers. A human being exactly as she is a human being. A creature of flesh and blood. A creature that grows from childhood to adulthood. A creature that eats and sleeps and breathes and all that attends being human. Such a creature will her son be.

And that is why I stare at her in awe. For the little child that shall soon be conceived in her womb and that she shall feed at her breast is none other than the Son of the Highest, God the Son, the Eternal Word of the Father through whom I was made, through whom she was made, through whom all things are made. She shall be mother of the Maker. She shall be mother of the Eternal One who was before the stars began their shining or the planets began their great dance. She shall be mother of Him whom it is our delight to serve and worship and praise world without end.

The Child she bears shall reign over David’s house forever. The promise of the Kingdom that has no end is fulfilled in Him. A forever Kingdom! O Lady, do you know what that means? He will reign through endless days and those over whom He reigns will live in endless life. Lady, do you know that you will carry in your womb Him through whom death itself will be destroyed? Lady, do you know that through the deeds of your Son the sin that separates the human race from the all-holy Father will be covered, atoned, pardoned? Lady, do you know how He will do it? No. I can see that you do not know. That is best for now. The day will come when you stand on a darkened hill and see a sight of love so grievous that it will tear your soul in two. But it will be His love for you and for your fallen race that drives Him to it, Lady. So rejoice!

And do not worry yourself over how this promise I bring you will be fulfilled. God knows that you are a virgin. But His Holy Spirit will overshadow you and fill you and change you and inside of you Life Himself will begin to grow and so the Holy One born of you will indeed be my Master, my Lord, my God. It is impossible for any word of God to fail. His promises are more certain than heaven and earth. He said it and so, Lady, rejoice and be glad. It shall be so.

Meekly do I see you bow your head. Meekly do I hear you utter the words: “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.” Meekly do I hear you say: “Let it be to me as you have said.” And so the moment has come and the great time of God’s keeping all his promises has begun. Begun in you, Lady. Begun in your womb, which He shall make His holy temple and His home for the next nine months during which His tiny infant heart will beat beneath your own, till that moment when the Lord blesses you and keeps you and makes His face shine upon you and gives you peace; that moment when your baby looks at you and nestles at your breast and closes his eyes in the peace and the warmth of your embrace. As you will hold him, so even now, does He hold you and all welcome Him.

Farewell, then, Lady until we meet once more, until together we bow before the Child you will bear and worship at His feet and give Him eternal praise in the Kingdom He comes to prepare, in the presence of all who have trusted in Your Son for forgiveness and salvation, in the life that has no end, where the joys are eternal and where the sorrows are forgotten. Farewell, Vessel of His grace! Farewell, Temple of the Presence! Farewell, Mary, child of David, child of Abraham, Mother of God! Farewell.

“And the angel departed from her.”

Elizabeth

Ours was always a quiet home.  God had not blessed us with children, and after many years together, a husband and wife learn to carry on conversations without words.  A look and a look back can speak volumes.  Yet we did talk.  Sometime at night, after the lamps were put out, I’d stretch out beside my old Zechariah and say:  “tell me the promises again.” 
 
You see, he was a priest.  He knew the Sacred writings of Torah and the Prophets.  And he loved to recite the promises about the Coming One, the One who would make all things right again for a world where so much has gone wrong.  He’d begin whispering them to me:  “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder…”  “And you, Bethlehem Ephratha, are by no means least among the tribes of Judah, for out of you will come a Ruler who will govern my people Israel.”  “His dominion will be from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth.”  “The wolf shall lie down with the lamb.”  Oh, he could go on forever; he knew them all.  He’d long ago stored them away in his heart, and he loved nothing more than to repeat them.  They were his prayer, his hope.  He was one of the Zedek - the righteous - who looked for the salvation of Israel.
 
When he came home from doing his priestly duty that year, he didn’t need to tell me he couldn’t talk.  One look told me something had happened.  His eyes were full of excitement and hope like I’d not seen in him since he was a young man.  I thought he might have a fever.  It took a while to get the whole story out of him.  I think he was a little ashamed.  It was not like him - questioning the word of one of the Lord’s angels?  That was not like my husband at all.  But still, the promise was staggering.  We were to have a child?  Now?  And our child was to be the one that the prophets had foretold?  The one to prepare the way for the Lord, the Messenger sent before the Lord’s face?  The fulfillment of all things was now?  In our lives?
 
When I first felt the little one move in my womb I could do nothing.  I stood still and tears streamed down my face.  Then laughter and joy.  Our God?  He comes up with the craziest ideas!  Old ladies carrying little babies.  Our God, the God of the universe, He promises the impossible and then He makes it happen.  No good trying to wrap your mind around His ways.  His goodness is beyond our thinking, His love beyond our dreams.
 
Five months our house was mostly silent.  Zechariah watched impatiently as my womb began to swell.  And there were days he’d lay his hand upon it and we’d look into each others eyes and one would start laughing and the other crying.  Five months of silence in the house and then one day, a miracle greater than our little boy’s conception came running up to the door.
 
I heard her voice.  She was calling a greeting:  Shalom, Cousin Elizabeth!  And that is when it happened.   My little one was doing summersaults in my womb - summersaults of joy.  And the Holy Spirit came upon me and I saw the whole thing.  My eyes were opened like they’d never been opened before.  All the past seemed like a dream and in shock and awe at what I had seen I stood to my feet. 
 
She came to me, a look on her face, a questioning look.  She thought no one knew.  I let her know different right away.  “Blessed!” I cried.  “Blessed are you among women!”  And blessed indeed, for no other woman would be both Virgin and Mother, and not just the mother of a miracle baby like my own.  The mother of… The mother of so much more.  I can barely bring myself to say it even after all these years.  “Blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  Ah, that was the heart of it.  She walked into my house and it was though the Ark of Covenant had arrived, and hidden in the Ark, the beating heart of my God taken flesh.  The Messiah, the One about whom all the promises centered. The One God told Abraham would bring blessing to all the families of the earth.  The Serpent Crusher.  The One to lead us back to Paradise.  He was in my house.  In her womb.  His infant heart beating beneath her heart.  “And why is this granted to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”  The look on her face.  The child melted.  I held her as she wept.  It was a fearful secret she had been hiding.  But here it was safe. 
 
I pulled back from her and gave my old goat sitting in the corner a proper look.  I pointed to her and said:  “Blessed is she who BELIEVED that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  My old goat, my Zechariah, he laughed and laughed his silent laugh, agreeing with me.  She had believed, and she was blessed.
 
And then she opened mouth again and spoke - a hymn of praise to the One who chosen her in love, and she foretold how every generation from that day to the end of time would remember and join in calling her blessed.  Ah, the poetry of her song and the fire of her words that day!
 
She stayed with us for the next three months.  How we talked much during those days - our house was silent no more. The last months are never easy, certainly not for old women.  And she was there to help me through those hard days and to share our joy when the little lad revealed his face.  She saw her divine Son’s fore-bearer, our John.  And then she left, she went home to meet her Joseph and to face whatever it was that God willed for her. 
 
There are those who think she is a almost a goddess - but they are being foolish.  There are those who think that she is just an ordinary person like themselves - they are just as foolish.  You must think of her as the Holy Spirit taught me that day she came to me:  Blessed among women, Blessed in the fruit of her womb, and blessed above all in believing the Words of her Lord.
 
You can’t go wrong if you follow her example, you people who live in the time of the great fulfillment.  You can’t go wrong if you also learn to say to God:  “Let it be to me according to your Word” and if you learn to trust every promise God makes you, no matter how impossible, how shocking, how unreasonable. You can’t go wrong if you open up your heart and your life and give space for the Child of Mary to come and live in you, bringing you the joy of presence.  It won’t mean an easy time in this world - how she found that out! - but it will mean the joy of a life that death cannot bring to an end.  For it will be God’s life, the life He reaches us all in His Son, the Child of Mary, the Mother of God.  Blessed be He!  Blessed be He forever!  Amen.



Pastor Ken Kimball

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Re: For Advent Devotions: Luke 1
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2018, 10:38:42 PM »
Thanks for these Will!  Food for my weary soul.   Ken

Weedon

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Re: For Advent Devotions: Luke 1
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 02:07:17 PM »
Your most welcome, Ken. Blessings on Adventide and Christmas!

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: For Advent Devotions: Luke 1
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2018, 02:39:56 PM »
"God had stepped out of the story and into my life and suddenly my life was like the story. "  My favorite line among many good lines in your accounts.
Harvey S. Mozolak
my poetry blog is listed below:

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com