See the whole passage for today here.
13But the angel said to him, â€œDo not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,Â 15for 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.Â 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.Â 17With 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.â€ Luke 1:13-17
Today, I’m simply struck by the graciousness of God, who sent John to Zechariah and Elizabeth, entrusting them to raise him, so that there would be someone (a prophet) to prepare the way of the Lord.
Yesterday, I prepared the Prayer of Great Thanksgiving for the Christmas Eve bulletin. (Yikes, by the way. Christmas Eve is next week!) In that prayer, we thank God for creating the world and for creating us in God’s image. We speak of our rebellion and God’s refusal to reject us.
“When we rebelled against you refusing to trust and obey you, you did not reject us, but still claimed us as your own. You sent prophets to call us back to your way.” (That version is from the Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church USA.)
Ahead of Incarnation, God sent a prophet to embody his calling, to prepare people to understand and receive what was happening.
Out of great love for the people God created in God’s holy image, God sends prophets to prepare hearts and minds to receive him, again and again. Our memories are short. Our steps are faltering. Our ways are crooked and we get away with whatever we can some days.
And yet, again and again, God sends gifts that prepare us to receive him, to make ready our hearts and lives for his appearing.