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Advent Reflection 2: Announcing Jesus

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Luke 1:5-23 - John the Baptist

5 - In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.  6 – Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.  7 – But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well on in years.  8 – Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  10 – And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.  11 – Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  12 – When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  13 – But angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.  14 – He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 – for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.  He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.  16 – Many of the people of Israel will be bring back to the Lord their God.  17 – And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  18 – Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.”  19 – The angel answered, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  20 – And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”  21 – Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.  22 – When he came out, he could not speak to them.  They realised he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making sign to them but remained unable to speak.  23 – When his time of service was completed, he returned home.

On this second Sunday of Advent, as we read and reflect on the above scripture, we think about Zechariah, that he was chosen to go into the temple of the Lord.  He sees the angel Gabriel who then brings a message from God.  It was no coincidence that Zechariah was in the temple, God chose him to be there, it was no coincidence that angel Gabriel just turned up, God sent him to Zechariah.  But Zechariah was ‘gripped with fear’.  God was showing Zechariah that he knew him and Elizabeth and not to be afraid.  That He had a plan and a purpose for them. 

With only a few weeks to go until Christmas Day, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can reflect on how God wanted to bless Zechariah and Elizabeth, He was showing them that even through Zechariah had been ‘gripped with fear’, that there was nothing to fear.  My prayer for this time of reflection for this coming
week, is that you would think about your own relationship with God.  Are you gripped with fear?  Our heavenly Father, wants to remove all fear from our lives, that as we can come to Him, we can be confident that He is for us and not against us.  That He has good plans for our lives.  If you do not know God but would like to know him or if you have fear in your heart and want to be free, here is a prayer that might be helpful.

Heavenly Father, even though Zechariah had been ‘gripped with fear’, he still chose to trust you.  Please come and live in my heart and help me not to fear but trust you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Virginia Grant, 30/11/2016