Saint Mark Daily Advent Devotional – December 23, 2014

by Cara Cassell

Scripture: Luke 1: 57-66

Sometimes a hard part of the Christmas season is being a gracious recipient.  Friends, family, co-workers, strangers offer gifts small and large.  The office receptionist sets out a dish of peppermint.  The workers’ lounge suddenly fills with baked goods.  Neighbors knock with a plate of treats.

Sometimes we do not feel worthy.  Sometimes we feel that we should have done more, given more, behaved more thoughtfully.  Because we do not feel that we earned these gifts, or because we feel that we cannot repay them, we believe that we should not receive them.  We are reluctant recipients.

I can only imagine that Zechariah shared this same feeling of unworthiness. When he first learned that his aged wife Elizabeth was pregnant, he denied the fact and denied anticipatory joy.  In consequence, he lost his voice for a time.  Elizabeth accepted God’s gift, and she kept her voice to claim, “He is to be called John.”  When Zechariah affirmed the baby’s name, he regained his voice.

With that name affirmation, Zechariah said yes–yes to the miracle of a child in old age, yes to bountiful blessings from God, yes to God’s miraculous power.  His and Elizabeth’s acceptance made way for the one who prepared the way for Jesus.  Elizabeth and Zechariah flouted convention when they chose to name the child without regard for the father’s or other relatives’ names.  In separating from convention, they took hold of the hand of God. This hand extended to them, and it extends to you and me without our earning it.  Zechariah did not lose his child; he lost his voice until he was able to claim the blessings of God.  We, too, must claim our power to say yes, yes, yes to the loving gifts before us.

Prayer:  Great and Loving God, in this season of giving, please help us to give.  Help us also to receive the gifts you have for us.  Help us to receive your love and to respond to that love so that we may be blessed and be a blessing to others.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

 

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