Thursday, December 8, 2022
I love Christmas.
Does that really need an explanation? What’s not to love about a time of year where we get to celebrate Jesus? Celebrate the Messiah who is and brings us hope, peace, joy, and love? Celebrate with cookies and pies and presents and parties? It is a joyous time of year, both for the cultural wrappings and baggage, (which is fine*!) but also for the Church traditions, teachings, giving, serving, and singing!
The story of the birth of Christ, however, doesn’t begin in the Hill Country of Judea, as much as Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas would have you believe. Instead, Luke, author of the most chronologically accurate account of the life of Christ**, brings us farther back than Matthew, and tells us about the announcements of coming births of John and Jesus to their respective mothers.
To be fair, today’s reading is 80 verses long! That’s long! I want to give you rapid fire thoughts and questions as the devotion for today:
Theophilus means in Greek “Friend of God.” While there may have been a person who commissioned the work from Luke, it could also be a title. Are you the friend of God to whom Luke is writing? Do you need to hear an accurate, orderly account of the life of Jesus to know with certainty the things you have been taught?
Both Zechariah and Mary respond to Gabriel, the messenger angel, with a similar question: How can this be? However, there are a few differences. Zechariah is a older man, a husband, a priest, that is a leader of the people, working in the temple. Mary is a young woman, unmarried, virginal, still probably in the house of her mother and father until her time to be wed to Joseph had come. Gabriel (but really, God) expected Zechariah to comply, to say “Lord I believe” and to follow through on the promise of God. Mary growing up in an agrarian society, would know that in her current state, babies would be impossible to come by.
When God announces his plan to you, do you trust that he will follow through? How much of him have you seen? Are you overlooking miracles? However, know that he isn’t mad when you ask him how to accomplish the (what appears to be) impossible. You too may just need the Holy Spirit to do the impossible. Are you willing to say “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled”?
A quick note, without a question, is that John, in the womb of Elizabeth, responded to the Messiah. Elizabeth thinks her baby is a person before he is born.
Final thought – Both Mary and Zechariah sing their joy to God. Take some time today and ponder what song you would sing if you could sing it. The lyrics don’t have to be perfect or rhyme. Their doesn’t need to be a meter, or pitch. But what would you sing to God to give him glory? Or, find a song that shares your heart, and sing that to God, thinking of all the blessings he has given you.
No matter the song in your heart, starting today, have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
* The wise men weren’t at the manger, but that’s OK! Use that to teach people about Jesus!
**In the author’s correct and very humble opinion.