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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, December 3, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 1:5–13

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. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But 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. (NRSV)

In this text, the angel Gabriel approaches Zechariah, tells him that God has heard his prayers, and that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would birth a son to be named John.

Zechariah had always been a godly man under the reign of Herod, king of Judea. Both Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, lived good lives in God’s sight, but they suffered pain. Elizabeth had been unable to conceive a child, which was considered to be a lack of God’s blessing in Jewish culture at that time. They were getting older.

Then one day Zechariah was burning incense in the temple as part of his priestly duties. The angel Gabriel approached him. Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear. The angel first told him not to be afraid. He then followed with the message of God’s amazing gift: the impending birth of a son. What an astonishing blessing for Zechariah and Elizabeth—and God’s world!

In reading this passage, one could, at first, have doubt or disbelief at the magnitude of this blessing. We might question, “How could God possibly do that?” On the other hand, it helps us to better understand aspects of our faith—living a godly life, perseverance, prayer, God’s power, and believing in and carrying out God’s will.

Few of us have experienced a miracle on the scale of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s miracle, but let’s think of how angels’ messages have come to us in other and, possibly, profound ways. Which of your life experiences have been changed as a result of God’s will being presented to you through today’s angels?

Give me strength to believe that by living a godly life, having patience to wait on God, and praying, God’s miracles will come to me through unexpected angels. Amen.

Written by Pamela Block, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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