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Luke 1:67-79

The Word of God

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty saviour for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days . And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Luke 1:67-79
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • God has come to rescue his people as he promised long ago. The promise still holds for us. Whatever trouble we may be in, God is coming to save us and we can be at peace.
    • We have been given all the gifts we need to lead good lives. When we fall short we can pick ourselves up and start again. The sacrament of reconciliation can be a great gift of healing at such times in our lives.
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    • Having long steeped himself in the ancient prophecies, Zechariah is sharp enough to know that things would not be suddenly taking such a miraculous turn – unless God’s people were on the brink of a new age. This has to be another age of peace, prosperity and honour – like that one promised before, when King David proved strong enough to repel all enemies.
    • Now has to be the cusp of a new dawn, of the sunburst of God’s power – when the Lord from on high will make himself intimately present to his people, dispelling the darkness of sin and death.
    • And the herald to announce God’s approach will be none other than this newborn child, John.
    • We might all pray that, in our own lives, we would be as clear-sighted as Zechariah in ‘reading the signs of the times’ – in picking up the hints of what God has in store for us.
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    • Zechariah, released from his silence, bursts forth in profound praise, proclaiming the activity of God at work in our world’s history. The saviour is coming! His own son will act as witness and light-bearer to the loving kindness and mercy of the great and holy one.
    • Lord, as I move into Christmas Eve, remind me again of how mercy is the dominant theme of how you walk with us. You are forever tender towards me. Help me to grow daily in the awareness of your mercy and tenderness, constantly at work in my life.
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    • The Benedictus is a prayer of prophecy about the coming of the Saviour. This "Most High" that Zechariah mentions comes not in a cloud of glory, but as a vulnerable child, with an ordinary family, in a cold stable. That is the kind of God we have.
    • This babe in a manger brings light to those in darkness and takes away all my sins, doing away with the power of evil. What do I say to him, who loves me beyond all love?
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    • Zechariah speaks of the fulfilment of God’s promises ‘God shows the mercy promised to our ancestors.’ God is faithful, and will fulfil every divine promise, and bring us all safely to eternal joy.
    • Perhaps I often ‘sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.’ Perhaps I know depression rather well. Today, Christmas Eve, I am given the hope of a new tomorrow. God is the Lord of human history and of my little life too, and wishes me a ‘Happy Christmas!’
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    • Although he was a good man, Zechariah did not believe the good news regarding the arrival of a yearned-for child. He became dumb. Now, as he names his son John, which means ‘God is gracious’, his tongue is loosened and he bursts into this marvellous prophetic song. How confidently and joyfully do I proclaim the graciousness of God? Or does my lack of faith made me dumb too?
    • Do I truly believe that God has redeemed me?
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    • The Holy Spirit has a busy time in the infancy stories! Elizabeth, Mary and now Zechariah all experience themselves as filled with the Spirit of God. The Spirit is busy today in the Sacred Space community: it is the Holy Spirit who prays through us all. I ponder this in wonder and gratitude.
    • Many people today sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Zechariah has a message of hope for them. I ask that I may bring some light to such people, especially at this holy time.
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    • The prayer of Zechariah is a morning prayer of thousands every day. I read it slowly, letting the words reveal their meaning for me today.
    • Zechariah is profoundly aware of his heritage, seeing Gods action in the past as having promise for the future. I draw encouragement from my own story, allowing God to bless me with hope and confidence in continuing blessing.