Scripture: Luke 1: 5-14 NRSV
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.
Zechariah probably thought it would be another ordinary day, a routine event. He was serving in the Temple, probably as he had done many times before, following his normal pattern and rotation. It happens to others in the Christmas story: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, are all moving through the usual course of life, taking care of work, daily tasks, ordinary hopes and dreams. Then God finds them. Zechariah, by the way, is an elderly man but will become the father of John the Baptist. It is his story that Luke uses to help us get ready to see the coming of the Messiah in Jesus.
Advent is a reminder that we don’t have to do anything extraordinary to find God. God finds us. God knows just what we need in these days. God can and does want to reach us as we go through our busy days, our easy days, our stressful days, our faithful days. We may or may not have an earth-shattering assignment from the Almighty, but God will show up. We sometimes think we have to act extra religious to get God’s help and attention. We can burden ourselves by thinking we must do more, act more holy, pray harder and so on in order to meet God. All of this adds more stress to our already full and overflowing lives. God will find you this season and bring you invaluable gifts of faith or hope or peace, even when you aren’t looking for it or feel particularly deserving of it. God can move through the most ordinary and the most jam-packed lives to speak a word of faith that catches us and blesses our understanding of faith. May it happen for you this Advent!
Prayer: Faithful God, touch us in your surprising ways in this season. May we find you reaching in, moving down, catching us, enlivening us and lifting us up to your presence that guides our steps and shapes all of our days. May we be caught off guard by the touch of faith that we least expect and most need. Amen.
Pastor Dave Summers