14th December – Luke 1:14-17
Yesterday’s reading left us in suspense as Zechariah heard the start of the angel’s message – his wife Elizabeth will have a son and Zechariah is to make sure he is named John. Some of us will remember receiving the news that we were going to be mothers and fathers; wonderful, exciting, scary and life-changing are just some of the ways we may have described our feelings. Probably, we were concerned about the health of the unborn child, and at a very early stage we wondered how our daughter or son would grow up, and how we would manage the huge responsibility of this new life.
Zechariah had a huge amount to take in. It’s likely that with much sadness he’d abandoned the hope of having children, but now his world was turned around in a few moments. Not only will he become a father, but he’s also given a deep insight into the spiritual work that his son John will carry out. Whilst Jews of the time were hoping for a Messiah who would save them from the tyranny of the Roman Empire, John’s work is about turning people round: back to God, parents back to their children, and ‘to kindle devout understanding amongst hardened sceptics’ (v17, The Message).
A stunned Zechariah has to deal with this unexpected, life-changing and life-giving message; no easy task. The last words of today’s reading summarize John’s purpose: ‘to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Robert Baden Powell, chose ‘be prepared’ as the Boy Scouts’ motto. He wrote: ‘be prepared in mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it’. Let’s reflect on this today and consider its implications as we seek to follow Jesus.
Lord, I want to be ready for all that life brings today. I want to be ready to hear your voice and to obey your instructions. Sometimes I’m not prepared, and I need to turn around inside, to turn from my own ideas and to seek your wisdom, to turn back to you and to be surprised and humbled.
Help me to go in the right direction today. Help me to have the courage to do the right thing at the right time. Make my faith grow so that I believe you have much that is good in store, especially when the challenges seem tough.
Lord Jesus, I turn to you today.