An Advent Journey: When God Became Small — Day Fourteen

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Luke 1:5-17, The Message

During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.

It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.

But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

“He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

I love Zechariah. Such a godly man, and still, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut when he needed to. I can relate just a little too well to that!

And I love this story of God’s faithfulness over time to this elderly couple. But when I think of all the beautiful promises that are contained in this word from the angel, the one about parents and children is my fave. 

We’ve talked about soft hearts already in this series, but this is a specific application of that whole idea, one that we need lots and lots of today. Parents turning to their kids with softness, with love and openness and encouragement and tenderness and joy. 

In the midst of the day-to-day drudgery that is part and parcel of parenting (let’s tell the truth, okay?), it is good . . . IT IS GOOD . . . to remember that tender hearts are priority numero uno. And right here, the angel of the Lord talks about how John the Baptist will help to begin that tender, turning process. May it continue . . . in us and through us.

Lord, help me to have a tender heart towards the children you place in my life. My own grandchildren, of course. But the other kids in my girls’ schools, the kids at church, and ones I meet at the grocery store and on the road. A tender heart is a very good thing to have . . . and I want one. 

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