Advent, A Time of Grace Realized

The birth of a child brings happiness, joy and wonder to every parent. The arrival of Elizabeth’s baby was no exception and perhaps was an even greater joy to them and those around them as they had waited a long time for a child. I can identify with this as we were married for 14 years before the arrival of our Elizabeth and it was pure joy! Jewish customs prevailed and the child was not named until he was circumsized on the eighth day, as that recognized his officially belonging to the family of God. It was a day of great family celebration and scripture gives us a glimpse into this special day.

Luke 1: 57-66 “ When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Can you even imagine being there when Zechariah spoke after 9 months of silence? What a surprise! But God is faithful to His Word, and just as the child was named, Zechariah’s time of silence ended. Awe or reverence for the Lord was used to describe the effect this had on the people there and the surrounding area. Other translations word it this way, “And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea.” The awe or fear was due to their amazement over what the Lord had done in their midst. They had seen first hand the power of God to provide this child in old age and to mute Zechariah for 9 + months. When was the last time you experience the hand of God in your own life or in someone near to you? Did it leave you in awe of our Sovereign God? Perhaps it was due to the birth of a child, healing of an illness, release from a threatening situation, resolving of a difficult circumstance or an answer to a specific prayer. What effect did it have on you? Were you joyous, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, or filled with wonder like the neighbors or did you try to discount it? Our response to God’s mercy and grace in our lives is crucial. In 1 Corinthians 1:4 Paul puts it this way, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,” Because of Jesus, our response should be one of thanks for His grace, His unmerited favor, towards us.

Let thanks be on your lips as you look for His Grace in your life today.

Linda

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