I’m working on a series for Advent this year for thinplaceNASHVILLE that I’m calling “RECEIVE THE GIFT.”
God is giving us gifts along the way as we prepare for the arrival of the ultimate gift, Jesus.
The first thing we want to do is to make sure we don’t miss the gift!
Advent is the beginning of the church year, so we start a new gospel and this year it’s the gospel of Luke.
We begin the gospel of Luke learning about Zechariah and Elizabeth, the aunt and uncle of Jesus, the parents of John the Baptist.
Let’s read Luke 1: 5-25 ( and you can read it in other translations HERE)
LUKE 1: 5-25 THE MESSAGE
5-7 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.
8-12 It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.
13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.
15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”
18 Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.”
19-20 But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.”
21-22 Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn’t speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.
23-25 When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy. “So, this is how God acts to remedy my unfortunate condition!” she said.
Zechariah almost missed the gift because he wasn’t ready for it. He thought he was too old. He had given up on his dream. He wasn’t expecting the Angel Gabriel.
What dream have you almost given up on? What things are you thinking you are too late for in your life? How might God surprise you? Are you willing to ask?
WHAT things are keeping you from receiving the GIFT this year? Fear, anxiety, busyness, exhaustion, frustration…what else? Talk to Jesus about this.
God gives Zechariah a different Gift while he waits…He gets the gift of SILENCE. What do you think he learned from this? What do you think he learned in the Silence? What if you tried more silence as you waited on the Gift of Jesus this Advent? How can you add SILENCE into your Advent season? How might this help you receive the Gift of Jesus and prepare your heart?
Zechariah got to go into the Temple and light the incense, a rare gift, a special honor. When have you experienced a rare honor from God? Remember and reflect on a time when you were given an opportunity to do something for God that you didn’t expect…or a time when you knew the “thing” was a true gift from God. TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER AND THANK GOD FOR THIS GIFT!
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ALTAR OF INCENSE HERE
Who in your life might be missing the GIFT like Zechariah? TAKE TIME to pray for people who might be missing the GIFT of JESUS this year. Ask Jesus to show you how you can share the love of Jesus with these folks in the coming weeks.
Calm us as we wait for the Gift of Jesus.
Cleanse us to prepare the way for his arrival. Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us.
Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit. Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom.
Today and Always. AMEN (adapted from Ray Simpson of Lindesfarne)
If you’d like a PDF of this gathering, or to learn more about thinplaceNASHVILLE, please email me at email@example.com
**Main art piece “The Angel Appearing to Zacharias” by William Blake 1799-1800
©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com
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Join Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin on Saturday, November 20th 9:30-12:30 PST (check my timezone) for an interactive, multi-sensory, creative retreat focused on the WONDER OF ADVENT! This retreat will be LIVE via zoom, but if you are unable to join live, you can sign up to watch the recording and participate later! Come with a creative heart, be inspired, have fun, and reconnect with the WONDER of the season. And did you know? If you have purchased a course from us before, we offer a discount. We also offer a group discount for groups over 5. Email us to get the code!