Advent 2019 – Day 9

…the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filed with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.[…]

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain?  For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”

The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

Luke 1:13-15, 18-20

The angels said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.  And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:31-37

There is something in the juxtaposition of these two passages that usually leaves me uncomfortable.  Zacharias and Mary are both visited by Gabriel.  They both are given impossible news. They both respond with questions.  But Zacharias is…rebuked? corrected? admonished? And Mary is comforted and encouraged. 

In the past, when I have meditated on these things, I thought there was some nuance.  Perhaps it is that Zacharias’s question is one of doubt while Mary’s is one of comprehension…I am sure there is more to be gleaned in studying their contrasts, but this year I have been reflecting on a new thought, what if Zacharias’s muteness was not so punitive or disciplinary as we tend to read it, what if it came as much from God’s kindness as His holiness?

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Advent 2019 – Day 8

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God if Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease.  And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.  For the thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream.[…] ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

Jeremiah 29:4-8, 11

Today is the second Sunday of Advent and we light the candle of faith. This candle is sometimes called the “Bethlehem Candle” referencing Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem that Jesus’ birth would fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:1-2. So why would I be looking at Jeremiah’s words to the people in exile? Because they are an example of faith – hope being lived out.

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Advent 2019 – Day 3


Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Names are important in Scripture, like when God changed Abram (high father) to Abraham (father of a multitude).  Or when Simon was given the name Cephas/Peter/Rock. Jesus has 100+ names throughout Scripture, each one revealing more of his purpose and character. Continue reading