Summary: Advent is not so much about shopping; it’s not so much about lists and baking and decorations. Rather, Advent points us to the One who came and will come again. A ‘ready life’ is one lived through the power of His Spirit to serve Him in holiness.
Why Christmas Is a Big Deal:
Mixing It Up
Scripture Text: Luke 1.68-79
Advent Reading: Luke 1.68-79, Advent-Peace
The Bible is full-of-examples of God-calling people to do things that appeared to be a little-strange …or goofy, …or surprising. I think it just goes-to-show that He doesn’t-mind mixin’-it-up!
Maybe He likes to keep us on the edge of our seats; …maybe He enjoys being unpredictable and mysterious; …or-maybe we are just so-inhibited by lack-of-faith, …or small-imaginations, …or blinded by the world’s best-guesses at the way things “should be done” ~ …that we’re caught-off-guard.
But-really! ~ Who are we to ever-question God’s plans ~ …His methods, …His instructions!?!... And-yet, we do ~ don’t we?
You and I aren’t the first to question God ~ …we’ve got a lot of good (and ‘bad’) company! Jonah (who decided to run-the-other-way, when God told him to go to Ninevah); Moses (who argued with God, saying that he was a ‘bad’ choice to go to Egypt); Adam & Eve (who liked-the-look of the forbidden-fruit); Judas (who let his questions turn to uncertainty and uncertainty turn to betrayal); And John the Baptist’s daddy, Zechariah (who just-couldn’t get-his-mind wrapped-around what the angel said was gonna-happen)
Lots of people in Scripture had-their-questions… But-don’t-ya-think: God wants to move us beyond-the-uncertainty to the point of trusting-Him even-when we have questions! Let’s-be-real, here: there will always be reasons to wonder, …reasons for uncertainty. But, isn’t that the nature of faith?: …to believe when it doesn’t make total-sense; …to trust when we can’t see the end; …to know that there’s more than what we can see, touch, smell!
If you’re waiting for everything to make sense, …or-for all the loose-ends to be tied-up, …or, for all questions to get answered ~ …you will probably miss-the-boat! If we wait until Jesus splits-the-sky, and comes riding-on-a-cloud, …we’re probably gonna miss it!
I. God’s Tool-Bag
Zechariah almost missed-it. He was a priest who worked in the Jerusalem Temple; …and-one-day - when he was going-about-his priestly-responsibilities – He was in the Temple, burning incense and praying for the people, …when the angel-Gabriel appeared to him.
While I like-to-think that if-ever an angel-appeared to me. …I like-to-think that I’d be all-ears!!! But, when the angel told Zechariah that he and his wife would have a baby, …Zechariah questioned how this could happen!
You can almost hear Zechariah’s-blumbering-response to Gabriel’s-announcement: “A baby!?!... “Ummm, …well, …Elizabeth and I haven’t… “Well, …it’s been a long-time since we…, “Uhhh, …listen, Gabriel, we’re old! “Elizabeth-and-me ~ we’ve long-passed the time of babies and diapers and chasing-a-toddler, …and playing-pitch on Saturday-afternoons! ~ …(And I can’t-even-imagine trying to keep up with a teen-ager… How old will I be at that point?) “How can this ‘baby-thing’ be!?!”
But, Zechariah seems-to-have forgotten the lessons from Abraham and David, …from Noah and from Moses, …from Rahab and from Ruth: God often uses the littlest and the weakest, …the forgotten and the over-looked, …the very-young and the very-old, …the unqualified and the disqualified! And a little-thing like age ~ …well, it’s no obstacle, at-all to God!
And when-it-comes to God’s big-plans, …He often uses unexpected resources. If you were to look into God’s tool-bag, …you’d find an odd-collection of unlikely-characters! You’d think that Almighty, All-powerful, All-sufficient God… You’d think that He could take-care-of-business all-by-Himself! Why does He go-and-complicate-things by involving broken, fragile, impotent-people – …like you –and-me and Zechariah – …why does He risk success by involving us!?!
We can come-up-with a thousand-and-one excuses for God to move-on and pick-somebody-else …or better-yet, …to do it all-by-Himself! But, for-whatever-reason, …God chooses to work through folks like Zechariah!... People who are faith-challenged, …people who are resource-deprived, …people who, when it comes-down-to-it, …they know they cannot do it on-their-own!
Zechariah listened to this amazing-news that came-from the lips of an angel-of-God; …and all he could think-about was the “can’ts” and the “impossibilities”: ”create-a-baby… as-old as we are!?!; …”give birth, at Elizabeth’s-age?; …”raise-a-baby, at this-point in our lives!?!” ~ Zechariah doubted. Zechariah questioned God’s plan to use himself-and-Elizabeth in this plan.
From his point-of-view, …it’s-as-though God reached into His tool-bag, …and instead of pulling out a hammer, …he pulled out a rusty-pair-of-pliers ~ …The mission seemed doomed before it ever got-off-the-ground!
But-ya-know-what? ~ The world may-think the tools in God’s tool-bag are useless ~ …but God can use those tools to accomplish His purposes. And Zechariah eventually understood this! The song that he sings is a celebration of God’s surprising-ingenuity ~ …that He can use an elderly-couple to bring a baby into the world, …a baby who will serve as the trail-blazer for the Son-of-God!
When you look into God’s tool-bag, …when you look at the game-plan that God has-devised, …when you look-at God’s track-record of activity in this world, …what-you-discover is-that when God does ‘big-stuff’ (or ‘small things’… it doesn’t-really-matter!), …when God sets-a-plan in motion, He almost-always uses human-creatures!