In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1: 5-25, selected verses
(For use with the MORNING Daily Prayer)
The scripture leading to the birth of Christ was full of good news and heavenly proclamations. First with Gabriel bringing news about the birth of John to Zechariah. An angel then appearing before Mary and Joseph foretelling the birth of Christ, and a great chorus appearing in the night to the shepherds tending their sheep in the field. News of great joy was brought to people who were least expecting it… a barren aging couple, an unwed virgin girl, and farm hands. It is like reaching the crescendo of a beautifully composed music—with everything coming together paving the way for Christ’s ministry, the Gospels! You know the music doesn’t just end there.
Often Christmas is about the birth of Christ but there is much more. Baby in the manger, chorus of angels, shepherd, sheep, donkey, wise men and camels bring back fond memories of growing up in a church. That is only the beginning!
During this Christmas season, are we prepared to accept the greatest news of all? That God is full of Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, and that we are all God’s children regardless of our race and gender…that God loves us all through Christ, God’s only son. In celebrating Christ’s birth, are we ready to abide by his teaching to love God and our neighbors as ourselves? Are we ready to clothe and feed the least ones among us? Do we accept Christ’s calling for us to feed the lambs and tend the sheep; that we include and not exclude other children of God?
You see, Christmas is only the beginning of our faith journey. As we sing our favorite carols this Christmas let’s prepare our hearts for the journey ahead. The way forward has been paved! Let’s lift each other up and take the first step forward together.
A Prayer for the Twenty-Fourth Day of Advent
Lord, as the celebration of Christ’s birth fast approaching, prepare our hearts to receive that great abundant of joy and prepare our feet to walk the way that Christ has taught us. Amen.
Vice President, Advancement