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Blessed Be

December 15, 2020

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David.” Luke 1:68-69

One aspect of Advent (and Lent) that feeds my soul is the rhythm of midweek worship. At Grace, our custom is to gather both for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer on Wednesdays in these two seasons. Far from feeling like added busyness, these services anchor my spiritual practice during these times.

Our New Testament verse from the Daily Texts today is the beginning of the Benedictus, which you’ll recognize from Morning Prayer. This song of blessing comes from Luke 1; specifically, it erupts from the mouth of Zechariah. Earlier in Luke’s narrative, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, a priest who, like his wife Elizabeth, was “getting on in years.” Gabriel announced that they would have a son and would name him John. Zechariah was incredulous. You can hear the echo of the story of Sarah and Abraham, those aged ones who welcome Isaac, the child of the promise. John, too, is a child of promise. He is born of the priestly line (running not only through Zechariah, but through Elizabeth, a descendent of Aaron). His birth is foretold while Zechariah is offering incense in the sanctuary of the Lord. Everything about this scene speaks to God’s holiness and to God’s promises.

And Zechariah doesn’t believe a word of it. In response, he is stuck dumb, unable to speak until they bring an infant John to be circumcised. Immediately, John’s tongue is loosed and praise pours forth: Blessed be the Lord! He has raised up a mighty savior for us! John, of course, grows up to be the Forerunner who prepares the way of the Christ. It is he, this One to whom John points, who is our mighty Savior. Luke clearly grounds Jesus’ story in the story of Israel, weaving it from Abraham and Sarah, through Aaron the priest and David the king, all the way through the Temple where God’s presence most clearly dwelled. Out of this history, a new thing: Christ Jesus, mighty Savior. Blessed be the Lord!

In times when we can’t imagine things getting better, think of Zechariah. It may seem impossible, but God’s promises will be fulfilled. And our mouths shall erupt with songs of praise once more. Blessed be the Lord!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Loving God, thank you for making and keeping promises. Come into our disbelief and silence our protests. Open our hearts to your will, and let us see the mighty Savior coming into our world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: This is what I saw on the couch when I came downstairs this morning. Our boys still love to play with their stuffed animals. They remember each one’s name. This, by the way, is only the a-list of their stuffies. There is a supporting cast, it seems, of thousands. Anyway, when I saw them thus arrayed this morning, I thought to myself, “Peaceable Kingdom!”

From → COVID-19

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