I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old. One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty. Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering. An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God. He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
(Today’s prayer tip is adapted from one Jennifer Creagar wrote for Advent, 2012.)
I have been reading about Christmas traditions in other countries and came across something interesting from Wales. In the Welsh tradition, there is always a washerwoman with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in the nativity scene. Why? Because if the Christ child is not a part of ordinary daily life, he has not come at all.
We will have many opportunities this Advent season to celebrate Jesus’ birth in special ways—singing, lighting candles and gathering for praise and worship. Christmas at Resurrection will lead us to remember the origins of “Silent Night.” We’ll be learning about John the Baptist’s aged parents and their courageous son who heralded Jesus’ arrival. There will be family gatherings, “Secret Santa” events and special offerings to move us to share with others.
But this week we look at Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents. There’s no evidence that anyone expected anything special from them. They showed no signs of thinking they were kicking off a special season of the year. They were ordinary people—yet open to what God called them to.
Every year this season we are beginning comes to an end. And it’s worth asking ourselves now: will the Christ child be part of our ordinary life, while we do the dishes, clean up the wrapping paper, shovel the snow and watch football? Will we set aside time in our ordinary days to spend with God in prayer? Will we listen for God’s voice in quiet time set aside just for that purpose, and in not-so-quiet time as we go about our ordinary days? Will our hearts sing “Joy to the world” every day because God calls us to honor the Christ child always in our everyday life?
Help us to celebrate your joy in all our ordinary days, so we will always know that you have come and spread your love to all your world.
– Jennifer Creager, Prayer Ministry
Jennifer Creagar is the Financial Care Program Director in Congregational Care at Resurrection Leawood. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.