So, are you ready for Christmas?
Is your heart
softened and blessed,
tuned in, transformed,
and turned toward the manger?
If not, take heart. Sometimes preparation is a process . . . just ask Zacharias. (Click here to catch up)
Today’s story of preparation begins with a crisis of belief in the inner sanctuary of the Temple where the elderly priest, Zacharias, is lighting incense.
. . . suddenly an angel appeared (Luke 1:11 TLB)
Understandably, he freaks out a bit, but the angel reassures him.
“Don’t be afraid!
God is showing grace to you.
Your prayers have been heard.” (Luke 1:13 TPT, VOICE)
Scripture does not tell us to which prayers Zacharias imagines the angel is referring, but my bet is that he and the angel are not on the same page.
There’s no way the angel is referring to their long-forgotten prayers for a child. That ship sailed. Impossible.
Take a deep breath here and maybe find a chair, Zacharias. Your ship is about to come in.
Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! (Luke 1:13 TLB)
The angel continues, “This son, whom you’ll name John, will soften men’s hearts to prepare them for the coming of the Son of God.”
(Spoiler alert: This son will grow up to be John the Baptist.)
The appearance of an angel bearing impossible news – this is a lot to take in. Zacharias has questions.
“How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child. What sign can you give me to prove this will happen?” (Luke 1:18 TPT)
Maybe when an angel delivers news in person, this is your sign, Zach. Just saying.
I wonder if there’s a holy Ahem from the angel.
“I am Gabriel. I stand beside God himself. He has sent me to announce to you this good news.” (Luke 1:19 TPT)
Now about that sign . . .
“You will be unable to talk—not another word—until you experience the fulfillment of my words.” (Luke 1:20 VOICE)
Being struck silent might feel harsh, but I wonder . . . what if his silence is a blessing?
What if silence creates time and space for Zacharias’
ears to listen,
his eyes to watch,
and his heart to soften?
Over the course of the next nine months, Old Testament prophecy becomes a current event:
I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. (Malachi 3:1 NLT)
Elizabeth bears a son, and Zacharias wraps his head around the truth:
My son is this messenger who will prepare the way for the Son of God . . .
Impossible things are happening because God’s love for us cannot be contained . . .
Gabriel was so right – this is good news – the very best news.
Preparation for the first Christmas is a process for Zacharias –
a crisis of belief,
a time of silence,
a softening of the heart.
Funny thing, when Gabriel announces that Zacharias’ son will soften men’s hearts, Zacharias hasn’t a clue of the blessing ahead: his own heart will be the very first.
Softened and blessed.
Sometimes preparation begins with a process of wrapping our heads around refreshing truth:
Nothing is impossible because God’s love for you cannot be contained.
See you next week for Part 3: Are You Ready for Christmas and the Blessing of Isolation?