Remember what it was like, as a child, to wait for Christmas to finally come? It was the day that you looked forward to all year long. Regardless of whether it was March, August, or December, it was always there in the back of your mind as something to look forward to, right? But, it wasn’t like waiting and hoping that Christmas was going to come back. There was never the question of if Christmas would happen again, but the question was “how much longer?” There was an expectation that on December 25th, it would again be Christmas Day and your waiting would be over.
This is the same kind of waiting that Advent is hoping to instill in us. As we wait for Christ to return, it’s something we do with an expectation. Instead of wondering if Jesus is coming back, we simple ask “when?” This is the kind of waiting that we see from Zechariah in today’s reading. He lives in a time where there has been no prophecy for decades and things were looking pretty hopeless in the eyes of many Jews. But, Zechariah finds out that his wife is going to give birth to John the Baptist and, once he regains the ability to speak, releases a beautiful, prophetic poem. In this poem, we find the heart of Zechariah. We see a man who has been waiting patiently, expecting the Messiah to come. He’s well aware of the agony of waiting. In fact, he’s spent his entire life waiting on a word from the Lord. But, during that time of waiting, he’s also been hoping, wondering what it would be like when that day would come and God would speak again. This poem reveals that Zechariah has not simply been waiting, but he’s been believing and expecting. He knew that prophecy would someday return and the Messiah would soon sit on His throne.
This is the message of Christmas. Even when all hope seems lost, when all we can see is utter despair, Jesus is still going to return. He’s come before and He’s going to do it again. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, but when it will happen. Like Zechariah, it is our responsibility to rest in the tension in between. We feel the pains of agony, but we cling to the hope of Christ’s return.
Consider Zechariah’s poem in Luke 1. How do these words relate to our current situation? In what ways does Zechariah’s setting mirror ours?
(By Cody Poinsett)