Faith Daily | 19 December 2020
PRAYER of the Week| ADVENT THREE (APBA p.468):
you have made us and all things to serve you:
come quickly to save us,
so that wars and violence shall end
and your children may live in peace,
honouring one another with justice and love;
through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord,
who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
GOSPEL for the Day: Luke1: 5-25
5 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. 6Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7But 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, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13But 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. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for 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. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17With 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.’ 18Zechariah 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.’ 19The 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. 20But 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.’
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Peter Galbraith
At the outset we recognise a circumstance we have met several times before in scripture. A couple, well advanced in years, seemingly denied what they wanted most – a child. We think, perhaps of Abraham and Sarah, and how they both laughed when told that they would have a son Isaac in their old age. Here Zechariah also could not quite believe what he heard the angel saying to him.
It seems to turn on its head human expectations as to how God can act. Most frequently it appears that prayer, seemingly unanswered, is so difficult to comprehend. God may not respond in the terms we ask him to. Here the opposite seems to apply, with the assumption that God cannot act outside the natural processes he Himself has set in train. As with Jesus in a different way, the birth of John is the outcome of a miracle, and one that gave great joy to his mother in particular. We should not allow our expectations of what God can do to be bounded by the limits of our own understanding.
As parents we wonder what the future will hold for our children, and Elizabeth and Zechariah are given here a future glimpse of what John will become. Given their age, they would not expect to live to see its fulfilment in a life of service and would be spared the pain of its earthly culmination at the hands of Herod. There are both blessings and challenges in watching the future unfold around us.
FINAL PRAYER: Rev'd Sandra
Thank you for reminding us that you
always fulfil your promises in due season.
Thank you for reminding us through holy
scripture that you are a faithful God.
Increase our faith and open our eyes to
see what you can do when we put ourselves
at your disposal. Help us to hold firm to
your promises and believe all things
are possible through Jesus Christ our Lord.