Luke 1: 5-19
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for 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. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With 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.’ 18 Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’ 19 The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.’
As we know, John the Baptist was duly born to Elizabeth and Zachariah and he carried out his mission to prepare people for the coming Christ. People flocked to hear Jhn and his message of repentance and many were baptised in the river Jordan.
His message is for us too –
We need to turn and keep turning so that God can come and keep coming: to us and through us to the world.
Like Zachariah it can be hard for us to hear and believe the Good News when the world seems to be in such a disordered state. We put up barriers, build mountains and walls that prevent the gentle worlds of God’s love being heard.
There is a lovely piece from the Song of Solomon describing Jesus the Beloved leaping over all the obstacles we put in his way, and how he gazes into our hearts, longing for us to respond:
The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
There is a famous picture by Holman Hunt, “The Light of the World”. It ilustrates a passage from the Book of Revelation:
“Listen! I a standing at the door, knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come in to you, and eat with you, and you with me.”
Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you, grant that we may likewise prepare our hearts to receive you this Christmastide; by turning to you in repentance and responding to your knock on our heart’s door.
Help us to listen to you in the silence of our hearts and share together in the hope we have in you, that more and more people may come to exclaim:
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.