I know, you may have been hoping to hear of the birth of the other baby—Jesus—today, as we draw closer to Christmas!
But God’s plan would not have been fulfilled without the birth of Jesus’ cousin, John. All must happen in accordance with the will of the Father—in his time, in his sequence, in fulfillment of the word of prophecy. And John is an important part of all of it.
Do you remember the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth? Barren, and advanced in years, it appeared Elizabeth would bear no children, although Luke tells us they were both righteous before God. Zechariah was serving as priest in the Temple, when the lot fell to him to enter the Temple and burn incense on the altar of incense. (Again and again we hear of incense, from the Old Testament through the book of Revelation!) As the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense, there appeared to Zechariah an angel of the Lord. And Zechariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel had come to announce to Zechariah that Elizabeth would indeed bear a son, John.
Though they would have joy and gladness, even more the angel declares that John would be great before the Lord, turning many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared. As we know, the role of John was to be forerunner— preparing God’s people for the coming of Jesus.
So the lesson for today begs the question… Are we a people prepared for the Lord? Am I? Are you? We should not be so bold as to say, “Yes, we are prepared.” In many ways, we remain unprepared, in spite of our days and weeks in Advent. However, as with the baby to be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, the coming of the Lord does not depend upon you and me! The Lord will come to us, ready or not!
“Stir up our hearts, O Lord, and come! Prepare us now that we may welcome you! Amen.”
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church