An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. The angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” – Luke 1:11-17
What prayer weighs on your heart? What desperate plea fills your waking thoughts and leaves you with disturbing dreams? “Do not be afraid. . .” the angel says. But commanding fear to flee does not seem to help. Are you willing to consecrate this prayer to God? To give it over to him to do as he wishes? Would your plea be so bold if you knew it would break your heart?
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. – Luke 1:41
There it is, the joy of answered prayer. Your heart leaps at the thought that at last, the thing you so desperately seek is near. Only now there is a new nagging, an uneasiness that cannot be explained except by seeking after God. And as you draw nearer to him, there is a growing sense this gift will demand all of you.
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. – Luke 1:67
You cannot help yourself. You must tell of what God has done for you. But in doing so your neighbors call you ignorant, uneducated, simple-minded. Smart people know better than to believe in God. Only a fool dares to claim that God speaks to people. And to admit you are possessed by a spirit? There are institutions for those who hear voices.
The child John grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel. – Luke 1:80
Inspired, galvanized, fanatical . . . and now confined to a desert wilderness. What leader builds a following while isolated from society’s influencers, kingmakers, and power brokers? Only an individual following the voice of one.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
Peace and the favor of God. Oh, if only you would bless me in this way, Lord. I so desperately need your strong hand of favor, your peace that passes understanding.
There was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. – Luke 2:25-27
Moved by the Spirit, cloaked with its power, we catch a glimpse of what’s to come. Not all, but enough to confirm that if we hold firm, we will see God’s glory.
Simeon took [the child] in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” – Luke 2:28-32
Now we understand that our prayer is not for us alone, not for merely our family, our people, but a blessing for those we may never see.
Then Simeon blessed the child’s parents and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. – Luke 2:34-35
Our prayer began in our hearts. Now as if a mirror, it reveals the hearts of others. Will they see God’s glory in this thing we consecrate to God?
When his parents saw him [in the temple], they were astonished. “Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?“ – Luke 2:48-49
Home. We miss it. We wish to return. And yet we cannot remember our home. We only know this life is not our final resting place. We came from more. We will return to more. Until then, we sometimes find community, encouragement, and the strength among God’s people while we serve and love others in this foreign land.