Summary: This season of Advent is also a season of busyness. There are so many gifts to buy, parties to attend and events to plan for. We must remember the real reason for the season. We must keep our eyes and minds focused on God.
We are deep in the Advent season-a season of expectation and preparation. Many of us are looking forward to Christmas-a time of celebrating with family and friends. It is a time when we remember the greatest miracle of all-the coming of Jesus.
Before Jesus was born, there was a great sense of expectation among the people regarding the coming of the Messiah. The reading from Luke 1:1-25 talks about two people who had a different expectation. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had prayed for years for a child, but their prayers were not answered.
On this particular day, Zechariah was the priest who was chosen to enter the Holy of Holies portion of the temple to carry the prayers of the people to God. Now the Holy of Holies portion of the temple was a special place. The only person who could enter this room was the priest, and even then he could only enter on one day of the year-Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement which is still observed by Jewish people today. . That was the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Its central themes were atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observed this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
When Zechariah entered the Holy of Holies, he carried the hopes and dreams of the people as expressed through their prayers. Included in those prayers were the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth for a child. They had given up on their dream, but God did not give up on them or their dream. Their dream fit in with God’s plans for their lives, but we must remember that God operates on his own timetable. God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth their desires in his own time and in his own way.
Zechariah gave up on his dream, but he did not give up on God. God rewarded Zechariah, but Zechariah could not believe that his dream would come true. After all, he and Elizabeth were old. Because of his disbelief, Zechariah lost his voice until his son was born. When Zechariah could not speak to the people, the people realized that he had seen a vision from God. Silence protects the fire of the spirit in our souls. It is a gift from God. It prepares us to speak, just like it prepared Zechariah to speak after he named his son John-as in John the Baptist.
Zechariah forgot that with God, all things are possible. Sometime we forget this lesson also. We, like Zechariah, believe in the big miracle of Jesus’ birth, but we have trouble believing that God can grant us our smaller miracles. The story of Zechariah reminds us that nothing is too hard for God.
This season of Advent is also a season of busyness. There are so many gifts to buy, parties to attend and events to plan for. We must remember the real reason for the season. We must keep our eyes and minds focused on God. We need to hear God’s words of assurance, confidence, faithfulness and hope. We need to talk to God instead of talking to ourselves. We must give God time to talk back to us. Only then can we understand the true meaning of the words of the carol, “Joy to the World”. Only then can we experience true joy. Only then can God move through our actions. God wants to remove anything that robs us of our dignity. He wants to give us what we desire.
We don’t stand in God’s presence like Zechariah did when he was in the temple. We do have a relationship with God through Jesus. We receive God’s truth through Scripture, so we must spread the Good News to the people. We can’t make anyone believe anything. Instead, we are called on to bear witness to who God is, what he has done and what he continues to do. Since we are in God’s Kingdom, we are meant to be a greater source of blessing than John the Baptist.