God promised that salvation is ours, a gift that is completely available to God’s faithful people. Zechariah looks ahead to the coming of the Savior who would be proclaimed by Zechariah's son, John the Baptist. But as we look back on the nature of the redemptive act of Jesus Christ, a gift covered with pain and beyond comparison, it is no wonder that we cling to the promises and saving grace of God. There is no symbol or expression of love that we can offer one another that matches God’s gift to us. Yet we can reflect those gifts of transformation such as salvation, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.
Part of being people after God’s desires is choosing to serve as the presence others need, stretching ourselves to love in ways that reflect God’s love. When we choose to serve the relational and spiritual needs of others, we receive God’s power and operate without fear. Just as a child offers a beloved toy to an adult whose heart seems to be hurting, we can offer what is precious of ourselves with a heart for those in need. Just as God promises saving grace, we can give sacrificially as bearers of God’s good news.
The power within us is worth our focused attention as we strive to live in ways that are holy, whether in our normal daily activities or in profound seasons of transformation. Although pretend-care for the toys of a child may seem like the work of a child, it is also an opportunity to practice how to receive, express thanksgiving, and pass on to others such kindness. The moments we have with our children, our neighbors, and our closest loved ones are opportunities to practice what we say and believe every time we focus our attention on God.
May we never think too lightly as God teaches us through children. May we embody Christ, listen to the Spirit, connect with others, and take focused time apart to reflect on what God is doing in and around us. 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.