The following passage from the beginning of Luke's gospel narrative is just about my favorite Christmas text. Typically, we pick up the story in the next chapter, starting out with the "Decree from Emperor Augustus..," or the "Shepherds abiding in the fields...." But Zechariah, who had been thinking about what to say for a good nine months, shares the most beautiful words about Jesus.
"By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
DON'T MESS WITH THE ANGEL! Zechariah, in case you've forgotten, was serving in the Temple when Gabriel appeared and told him he and his wife were going to have a son (John the Baptist).
Zechariah questioned the angel's word.
Gabriel felt disrespected, and he was not happy. "Yo, puny human! My name is Gabriel; I'm tight with God! What do you mean you don't believe me? Just for that I'm striking you mute. POW! There you go. How do you like them apples? Oh, I forgot, you can't speak..."
SONG OF PRAISE: Later, after John is born, Zechariah lets loose with a song that's full with humility and confidence and praise. He's excited about his son, but he very much understands what God is up to with Jesus.
Jesus is the dawn from on high, breaking in on the world. Or, translated another way, "The tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness."
And it's impossible to ignore the fact that so many people live in darkness.
TODAY: This morning - and this happens pretty much every day when I get up and take Scout for her walk - I was privileged once again to witness light creep over the horizon and begin to illuminate our community. The powerful visual unfailingly turns my thoughts to the intention of God when he gifted us with Jesus.
"Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings...!" The quote is from the Christmas carol, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Glory to the newborn king!"
Glory indeed. Glory, and light.
Light, life, and glory.
Healing for this world.
Peace, hope and promise - DEREK