A Stunning Anthem

Our first Sunday in Advent at church was a blessing of fine music. We are the happy recipients of an incredible pianist/organist whose unsurpassed keyboard talents set the tone for high and holy worship with the first strike of the keys. I nearly wept after her prelude, which wove familiar hymns such as “Let All Mortal Flesh be Silent” with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in intricate chords and dramatic bass notes. I felt that in that singular moment, Christmas had blossomed in my heart.

Music can do that to you.

We were designed for worship and praise. As God knit us together in the womb, he had a plan for his people to be able to come and adore him in harmonies that have only been heard by the angels. I suppose that is why Christmas carols and Christmas songs are so important to this season. They set the stage for the advent of Christ in our hearts and draw us to that angel choir that hovered above his manger at his birth, singing their glorious “alleluias.” God invites us to sing along.

In the fifteenth chapter of Romans, Paul is reflecting on why Jesus came and how we should respond to him. Not surprisingly, he says that we should strive for a maturity of personal harmony with one another that will make us into a choir … “not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem.” What a beautiful image!

Romans 15 (The Message)

3-6 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

If we are to be a choir of worshippers who live in harmony, we have a few things to do. First, we must stay true to God’s purposes for his creation, which is to live in peace together. That may mean laying down old grudges, prejudices, and bigotry. Next, we need to invite outsiders in and welcome the insiders to return. As the “choir,” we can be integral in reaching out to welcome one another in love and acceptance for all.

7-13 So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance:

Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I’ll sing to your name!

And this one:

Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!

And again:

People of all nations, celebrate God!
All colors and races, give hearty praise!

Ask yourself if you are adding to the harmony of God’s worship or detracting from it. Have you welcomed the stranger into your heart and your home? Are you able to include every aspect of God’s diverse and beautiful world in your worship? Can you invite your neighbor to church this season?

And Isaiah’s word:

There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse,
    breaking through the earth and growing tree tall,
Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

I pray that each one of us will do all that we can to share the joy, the peace, and the live-giving energy of the Holy Spirit to an outsider who desperately needs it. Look around … they are in our midst. May we bring the brimming-over of hope to the world this season.

May the God of Green Hope Bring You Joy by Kathy Schumacher

Bleak Midwinter

Raise your hand if you are among the unfortunate ones who have a December birthday. Those of you born in the other eleven months don’t have a clue. Who else gets “combination birthday/Christmas presents?” Nope, that is reserved for us December babies. I can give you a list of such combo-presents: every bike I ever received, a fancy cowgirl outfit (with boots), a black and white TV for my teenage bedroom … yes, my parents would do the combo thing when they were debating a somewhat expensive present that they were struggling to afford. Bless them!!

On the other hand, I do share a birthday with Walt Disney. I found that out when I was in High School and have always loved it. It makes me happy to share a birthday with a man of his creative genius and genuine expertise in storytelling. Happy birthday to us, Walt!

The most important birthday in December of course is Jesus’ birthday. I had a childhood practice of either staying up past midnight on Christmas Eve or waking up early on Christmas morning to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before the day began. I would look out the window from my bed at 5 Chatham Rd. and see the streetlight shining in the dark and sing to baby Jesus. More often than not, I could see the snow falling on Christmas morning in that light, and snow on Christmas was EVERYTHING. This is possibly the only benefit of growing up in New Jersey.

I wonder what Christmas would look like if we had kept it as just a birthday party for Jesus, instead of the giftpalooza-partypalooza-spendtoomuchpalooza-shoptillyoudroppalooza that it has become. Imagine it: we would wake up, talk about how wonderful Jesus is, plan a nice meal, bake a birthday cake, have the celebration, blow out the candles, and call it a day. And it would truly be just about him.

How can we make Christmas just about Jesus again?

First, we can care about the things that he cares about. The widow, the orphan, the children crying for their parents at our country’s border…he cares about that. Giving to the needy and sharing our abundance is something he cares about. He cares about the people who are ill, in hospital beds, or nursing homes. He cares about things that are lost: souls, marriages, teenagers, car keys, runaway pets, and your will to resist temptation. He cares about the planet his father created.

He cares about YOU.

Micah 6:8 Amplified Bible (AMP)

8 He has told you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you

Except to be just, and to love and to diligently practice kindness (compassion),

And to walk humbly with your God, setting aside any overblown sense of 

importance or self-righteousness?

This Christmas, let us focus on getting Jesus the perfect birthday present. Let us dive deep into his word and grow closer in our relationship with him. Let us stand up for justice, diligently practice kindness, love one another, offer compassion, and be humble before him. Or, as Christina Rossetti once wrote:

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a Shepherd

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man

I would do my part,

Yet what I can I give Him,

Give my heart. (In the Bleak Midwinter)

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

In the Bleak Midwinter by Mary Anne Mong

Reverse the Flow

Our text from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah comes from a time of high anxiety, impatience, and discouragement for God’s people. There was tremendous political infighting. Corruption was widespread. Powerful Assyria had gathered up smaller nations and was headed toward Jerusalem with an eye toward conquering them. Alternate religions infiltrated into the people’s minds, and they turned away from God. In the midst of this crisis, Isaiah had a vision of a united, harmonious Israel, and peace on earth.

Isaiah 2 

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come
    the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains
    and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.

3     Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

As we begin the season of Advent, we can easily put on our New Testament glasses and see Jesus in this prophecy. He came to bring peace, unity, and harmony to our hearts. In his second coming, he will bring these things to the world when he reigns from Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace. The second coming is what we are waiting for as we dwell in the marvel of his first coming on earth on that first Christmas morning. Advent is thus a time to reflect, rejoice, and make spiritual preparations for the birth of the Messiah again in our hearts. As the carol says, “Be born in us today!”

Yet many of us will be overwhelmed by the flow of secular Christmas and spend this time overspending, overeating, overindulging, and going over the top in ways that we will pay for all next year. It will take months to shed that credit card debt and those 3-5 pounds many of us will gain between Thanksgiving and New Year. And for what? Is that why Jesus came?

I propose that we work hard to reverse the flow of commercialism and dwell in the light of Christ instead.

A friend of mine told me a remarkable story about her trip to Fort Myers last week to help people whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Nicole. The team was ripping out drywall and wet insulation from a home and the homeowner showed her something amazing. When the house was built, the homeowners went through the house with their kids and wrote Scriptures on the walls. When the flood waters came raging through the house, the water stopped just short of the place on the walls where the Scriptures were written. God’s word remained.

This is a powerful reminder for us today about the power that God’s word has over the flow of destructive forces in our lives. As we spend this Advent season trying to reverse the flow of secular behavior, may we remember to stay anchored in God’s word, which is immovable and unchangeable. If we had to choose just one scripture for this Advent waiting place, it should be Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

This Advent, may we commit to being still in God’s presence!

Be Born in Us Today by Michelle Robertson

Ain’t Gonna StudyWar No More

Today’s devotional begins in an unusual place. We find ourselves in Nat King Cole’s marvelous song, “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.”

Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Ain’t gonna study war no more.

refrain

I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
Study war no more.
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
Study war no more.

The origin of this spiritual comes from our Advent lectionary passage found in Isaiah 2. This prophetic word points toward a time when peace and harmony will rule the earth with the coming Messiah. People will take their weapons of war and turn them into instruments of harvest, as the world moves from violence against one another to growing and sustaining one another:

Isaiah 2 (Common English Bible)

He shall judge between the nations
    and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation;
    neither shall they learn war any more.

In this season of reflection and waiting, I suggest we work toward finding inner peace. We won’t have outer peace without it and having peace in our hearts is something we can do now as we wait for Christ to return. Do you have peace? If not, try these things:

1. Rejoice in the Lord. 

Phil. 4:4 says to rejoice in the Lord always… not just rejoice occasionally. Not just rejoice when something great happens but rejoice in the Lord always. Making the choice to rejoice in every circumstance brings peace to your soul.

2. React with graciousness. 

Be gentle and forbearing… with everyone. Scripture teaches us that “A gentle word turns away wrath.” Paul says to let your words be seasoned with salt and designed to build up, not to cut down, designed to develop, not destroy, and designed to help, not to hurt. When your graciousness is evident to all, you not only experience peace, but you also give it to others.

  1. Rest in the Lord.

Jesus said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Remembering that Jesus is with you and that you abide in Him will help you rest in Him and experience his peace when you have none. 

  1. Reach up to God in prayer.

Let prayer be your first response, not your last resort. Paul says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 6:7)

5. Reflect on good things. 

The battle for peace is primarily fought in the mind. We must take every thought captive to Christ by meditating on God’s Word. In Phil. 4, Paul wrote: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” 

6. Repent and receive forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit will not let us be at peace when we are holding on to sin, so we must confess, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness. When we confess and repent of our sins, we find an inner peace.

Advent is a season of light. May we walk in the light of Christ as we wait!

O house of Jacob,
    come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!

Let There Be Peace on Earth by Michelle Robertson

Peace

What does the word peace mean to you? Does it include a personal perspective of your spiritual and emotional well-being? Is it an image of a family sitting around a dining table enjoying a meal together without any arguing or hard feelings? Does it indicate a global environment where countries are not at war with each other? I think it is all of that and much more.

When Jesus left this earth, he said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace be with you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus reminds us that he desires us to have a peace that can come only from a relationship with him. And his peace passes all understanding.

Do you have that kind of peace?

In the 22nd Psalm, we are encouraged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. If you know the history of the Middle East, you can appreciate what a big ask that is. The psalmist is on a pilgrimage to the spiritual center of his religion and his heart, and his hope are focused on finding that Jerusalem can be a place of peace in the troubled world of conquests and kingdoms. He is excited to go to the temple to worship, and proud of its fortifications and strength:

Psalm 122 (Common English Bible)

 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let’s go to the Lord’s house!”
Now our feet are standing
    in your gates, Jerusalem!

Jerusalem is built like a city
    joined together in unity.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the Lord’s tribes!
It is the law for Israel
    to give thanks there to the Lord’s name,
    because the thrones of justice are there—
    the thrones of the house of David!

The halls of justice were located in Jerusalem, as the Hebrew Law made its home within its walls. The people went to this beautiful city on the hill as the law required to pay their alms and tithes at the temple and revel in its beauty. It was a spiritual and emotional home for them.

Pray that Jerusalem has peace:
    “Let those who love you have rest.
    Let there be peace on your walls;
    let there be rest on your fortifications.”

We might take a cue from this and pray for peace in our spiritual homes as well. Do you pray for your church? For your denomination? Is there peace in your pews, or does dissension live there? A pastor friend once said that church was like visiting the sausage factory … everybody loves to eat sausage, but you might not want to know what goes in it. Ever feel that way?

If that resonates with you today, take heart. Every institution made of people is bound to have conflict, differences of opinion, and the occasional (frequent) unpeaceful moment. But never mind all that. Where God is present is the only place to be. We are called to make the pilgrimage despite its flaws. Just remember to pray for peace and never cease to pray for your church’s good.

For the sake of my family and friends,
    I say, “Peace be with you, Jerusalem.”
For the sake of the Lord our God’s house
    I will pray for your good.

Let There Be Peace on Earth by Michelle Robertson

Weapons of Light

Last week I had an opportunity to speak with youth parents about their hopes and dreams for our youth group at church. We are in a season of transition and parent buy-in is the thing that will make or break our program. One mother was the parent of a High School senior and was very concerned about her daughter’s last opportunity to connect with a youth group before leaving for college. We talked about needing to arm our kids with Scriptural truths as they go out into the world, and I joked that the kids headed off to colleges especially needed strong faith “weapons of mass destruction” in their suitcases. College can be a time for even the ones who are strongest in their beliefs to wander, and so we want with all our hearts to prepare them through youth group in their high school years.

As I was driving home, I squirmed a little about my use of the phrase “weapons.” I had Ephesians 6 in my mind where Paul encourages us to put on the full armor of God, but I had some post-conversation second guessing about calling faith a weapon. Then I opened up today’s lectionary and read this:

Romans 13 (Common English Bible)

11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So, let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light.

Thank you, Paul.

I love this phrase “weapons of light.” Indeed, that is what is needed to go into battle with every spirit and force of darkness, whether that is found in the secular world of a large university or the disfunction of a family or disharmony in at work. We are called to be bringers of the light and use that light as our sword and shield when necessary. In this passage, Paul is warning the Romans that the time and hour to stand up and fight for the Truth was upon them. Is there ever a time when we don’t need to be fighting for the light? I think not. I believe we are in such a time right now.

13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.

This is the week that the holiday season officially begins. Thanksgiving is the first day of a long season of celebration of the light. On Sunday, Advent begins. It is also a time of worry, anxiety, stress, and depression for many. Paul’s reminder of how to behave is spot on for where we are right now … especially the reminder to plan to not indulge our selfish desires! One small piece of pie is much better than three, people! But the central idea of being armed against the darkness shines through this passage.

Where will you experience darkness in this season? Can you bring light into somebody else’s darkness? Is there a particular weapon you need to pick up? Whether its faith, hope, love, gentleness, joy, perseverance, righteousness, truth-telling, etc., grab ahold of it today and carry it with you from now until the new year. Or better, forever.

Dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and he will be your armor.

The Day is Near by Michelle Robertson

Feasting with Strife

Proverbs 17:1

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.”

I have always loved Proverbs 17:1 as a theme verse for Thanksgiving Day! I shared this with a staff member yesterday and we both laughed out loud. I have an image in my mind of the writer taking the left-over heel from the loaf of bread that was used for the stuffing and climbing up the exterior staircase to the roof of the house to eat it alone in peace and quiet. Houses in Israel often had roof accesses so that people could sit up there in the cool of the evening after the sun set. You may recall the story of the four friends who carried their paralytic friend up to the roof in order to lower him down in front of Jesus, who was sitting inside the crowded house. That story helps us appreciate the importance of an exterior staircase. It provided the writer of Proverbs 17 a quiet escape from his bickering family below.

This passage is a reminder to us that when families gather, feasting with peace and quiet (not strife!) is the goal.

It is a reminder to keep politics, past grievances, and old grudges off the table, and look around you and be grateful for what you have.

Last night I looked out a third-floor window of my house and saw the beautiful reflection of the moon on the canal, making a silver path across the water. I remembered times when my mother and I would be talking on the phone and describing to each other the reflection of the moon from our windows: me in Colington, her in Manteo. Mom passed away in 2014 so she looks at the moon from a different perspective now. I am sorely missing her, my dad, and my incredible mother-in-law this Thanksgiving.

If you have family around you for Thanksgiving, cherish them. If bickering begins to break out, take your dry crust and quietly walk away for a minute. And if you don’t have them with you tomorrow, call them!

Life is too short for family strife.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Quiet Reflections by Michelle Robertson

Give Thanks!

What does it mean to be redeemed?

When you study the roots of the word “redeemed,” you will find phrases like “buy back,” “win back,” and “to free from captivity by payment of ransom.” This last definition gets to the heart of the matter in a theological sense. Your very soul was freed when Jesus paid a ransom for it on the cross. YOU are one of the redeemed.

In our Psalm today, we receive instructions on what the redeemed should do. This is a terrific reminder this week as we prepare for Thanksgiving. How do you measure up? 

Here is what the psalmist suggests:

Give thanks to the Lord,

Say that his faithful love lasts forever,

Cry out to the Lord in your distress,

Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,

Declare what God has done,

Sing songs of joy!

Psalm 107 (Common English Bible)

“Give thanks to the Lord because he is good,
        because his faithful love lasts forever!”
That’s what those who are redeemed by the Lord say,
    the ones God redeemed from the power of their enemies,
    the ones God gathered from various countries,
    from east and west, north and south.

Some of the redeemed were fools because of their sinful ways.
    They suffered because of their wickedness.
18 They had absolutely no appetite for food;
    they had arrived at death’s gates.

19 So they cried out to the Lord in their distress,
    and God saved them from their desperate circumstances.
20 God gave the order and healed them;
    he rescued them from their pit.

21 Let them thank the Lord for his faithful love
    and his wondrous works for all people.
22 Let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices
    and declare what God has done in songs of joy!

This psalm was written during the time when God redeemed the nation of Israel from captivity in Babylon. They had cried out and were heard. They suffered because of their wickedness and were delivered. They were sick to death and were healed of their desperate circumstances.

God redeemed his people.

Our challenge today is to choose one of the things that the redeemed do and go out and do it. Can you offer a thanksgiving sacrifice by paying for someone’s order in the drive-through line behind you? Can you call or text a friend and remind them of God’s faithful love? Perhaps you might sing a song of joy to the Lord today as you take a walk or spend extra time in prayer and offer God nothing but thanks.

We are the redeemed. We are his people. We are bought and paid for by the shed blood of the atonement. Give thanks! 

Let all the redeemed say so.

Give Thanks by Michelle Robertson

Step Out of the Traffic!

If you have read these devotionals for a while, you know that while I love The Message translation for a different perspective on story-narratives, I dislike it for the Psalms. The Psalms were originally written to be songs of praise, lament, thanksgiving, wisdom, and trust. Peterson’s amazing ear for contemporary phrasing takes the lyrical flow away, in my opinion.

Today we are looking at Psalm 46. I love the phrase “be still and know that I am God” that is found in most translations. In fact, I used the NIV translation when I was putting together my book, Psalms by the Sea, for that very reason. There are several beautiful music arrangements of “Be still” that use this phrasing. However, when Psalm 46 popped up again in this week’s lectionary reading list, I decided to dip my toes into The Message to see what Peterson has to say. While not especially lyrical, I was not disappointed with his unique spin. See if you can spot the “be still and know that I am God” verse:

Psalm 46 (The Message)

1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains.

What an amazing twist Peterson puts on this! God is a safe place to hide. Just that phrase alone speaks volumes to the discouraged, the abused, the addict, the downtrodden … to be reminded that God is ready to help when we need him is life-giving, even in those moments when we stand on the “cliff-edge of doom.” Having just come through another round of elections here in the United States, I really resonated with that. Are we never standing on the cliff-edge of doom anymore? A friend texted me the night that election results were being rolled out and said that he was “doom-scrolling” on social media. Actually, it doesn’t take an election to find yourself “doom-scrolling.”

    Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
    this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
    God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
    but Earth does anything he says.

Two take-aways in this section: God is at our service from crack of dawn because God neither slumbers nor sleeps. So, when you are pacing the floor in the middle of the night with fretful worrying, God is ready and able to hear your needs and take up your burden. And be reminded that the Earth does anything he says, so any man-made construct of institution, relationship, law, or oppression is subject to God’s power and God’s correction. Even the sun in its rising listens to God’s direction.

    Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
    He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
    breaks all the weapons across his knee.

As the war in Ukraine continues to rage on, my heart is lifted to know that when Jesus returns, there will be no more wars. Weapons of war will be turned into plowshares so that the world might harvest God’s bounty together as one people. Lord, haste the day!


“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”

Did you find it? “Step out of the traffic!” is the translation of “be still and know that I am God.” As always, Peterson’s whimsy made me laugh and nod my head. Yes, we need to step out of the traffic! We need take that long look at God and remember that he is above politics and above everything. What a soothing, timely message for us right now.

11     Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Is God telling you to step out of the traffic of your situation or risk getting run over? Do you need to walk away from something destructive? Is God asking you to turn your eyes upon Jesus instead? If so, be still, and know that he is God.

Be Still by Kathy Schumacher

Benedictus

Have you ever had a foreknowledge about an aspect or a situation regarding your child that you absolutely saw coming? We call that a mother’s or father’s intuition, and I do believe we are biologically, spiritually, or mentally in tune with the small people we are entrusted to raise. In healthy families, there is a deep soul-connection between parent and child that is a link we can’t sever or ignore.

In our passage today, a man named Zacharias is holding his newborn son John. The birth of his first born has resulted in a kind of prophecy and foreknowledge that hasn’t been experienced in Israel for 400 years. Suddenly, Gabriel, Elizabeth, Mary, and Zacharias are infused with the word of God about the arrival of a long-awaited Messiah, and the glory of God shone around them. Zacharias begins with a word of praise for the power of God:

Luke 1 (Common English Bible)

“Bless the Lord God of Israel
    because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70     just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
    and from the power of all those who hate us.

Remember that Jesus wasn’t born yet. He came a few months after John’s arrival, yet John’s father was filled with anticipatory hope about the savior who was about to come. As he looks forward, he remembers the past:

72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and remembered his holy covenant,
73         the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued
        from the power of our enemies
    so that we could serve him without fear,
75         in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes,
            for as long as we live.

After acknowledging Jesus, he turns now to address his baby son:

76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved
    through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion,
    the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79     to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
        to guide us on the path of peace.”

This beautiful “Benedictus” (from the Latin meaning “blessed” and “to wish well”) is meant for us as well. Read that again and imagine God saying that to you. You, child, are called to go and tell the people how to be saved. You, child, are to help people heal through the forgiveness of sins. You, child, will give light to those who are sitting in darkness.

So, you, child have received the blessing of knowing Jesus. How will you fulfill your prophecy today? Go and tell.

Waves of Well Wishes by Michelle Robertson