Zechariah’s song of prophecy following the birth of his son, John the Baptist—who will prepare the way for Jesus—praises God for the deliverance from enemies that will allow God’s people to live without fear.
When pain is linked to power that causes harm, it often invades every aspect of our lives. The experience of pain can become so familiar that we might begin to think of despair as the natural state of things. Whether harm is caused by those intentionally wishing us ill or by beloved followers of Christ revealing their imperfections, God promises to deliver us because God's power is a source of only good. There is no hardship that can overshadow or fear that can oppress in the midst of God’s love and light.
God provides grace abounding in love, care, and forgiveness. Through an extended season of shifts and changes toward perfection in Christ, we can be formed into servants of God because we know the source of such saving grace. When we choose to step into God’s covenantal relationship, we can achieve a peace which frees us from our past and provides hope for our future.
If it were possible for us to be completely self-sufficient, to bring about light in darkness, visibility to faults, and direction to the most righteous way—then there would be no incentive to grow in faith. But, as Zechariah says, it is because of God’s great compassion that light breaks upon us. Then, just as a seed planted in the ground, we can grow toward the light. And just as root systems give trees the ability to support one another in the darkness of the earth while their branches stretch toward the light of the sun, so we are the connected community of faith, sharing the benefits of knowing Christ both for all to see and across the depths of our own being.
God, abide in us so that we might have peace of mind, rest in our weariness, faith through it all, connections with your people, and trust as we receive your direction. Amen.
The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.
Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you encountered the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
Read Luke 1:68-79. In what ways have you experienced God’s tender mercy in your life?
Read Philippians 1:3-11. How do you make expressing your gratitude for others a daily habit?
Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?
Respond by posting a prayer.