A Path Prepared

The rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace (Luke 1:78-79)

Zechariah has some things to say, but he’s had to wait a long time to say them.  One must learn to watch one’s words when responding to the seemingly impossible angelic announcement that two quite senior citizens would hold their own baby boy in their own arms.

If you had to go nine months without being able to speak, what would you say first when your mouth and tongue were restored to working order?

As baby John bursts forth from Elizabeth’s body, what bursts out from Zechariah is praise and prophecy.  He rejoices in God’s promise-keeping to David, to the words given the prophets, to the covenant God made with his people Israel.  He captures and sums up God’s redemptive work in four clauses: to show mercy to our fathers; to remember his holy covenant; to rescue us from the hand of our enemies; to enable us to serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness always (verses 67-75).

It’s the waiting that empowers such speaking.

On this Monday morning, we have entered the fourth week of Advent.  Having lit the Advent wreath candles of Hope, Love and Joy, we now attend to the candle of Peace.  Where is the pathway to Peace?  How do we walk in the pathway of Peace?

The Peace candle and this week’s passage remind us of our need for God’s light, reminds us that our “native habitat” is darkness and the shadow of death.  Darkness and shadows surround much of life, and darkness and shadows live within us as well.  We cannot blaze the trail of peace to God.  It is God who makes his way to us and for us.  We cannot make our peace with God until God has made his peace for us.

So Zechariah sings us into that way, God’s way to Peace and God’s way of Peace.  God has prepared his way to us, through prophets and promises, covenant and commandment.  God has prepared his way to come to and for his people, and Zechariah’s son John will prepare the darkness-shadowed people for the rising sun of God’s onrushing grace, tender mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.  

Jesus will be the way God makes peace.  Jesus is the way of God’s peace.  The same Spirit that brooded over Zechariah’s nine-month muteness, the same Spirit that engendered Incarnation in the womb of Mary, the same Spirit that gave voice to unspeakable joy through the mouths of Elizabeth and Zechariah 

is the same Spirit who will guide our feet in the path of peace.

Such a busy season – so many preparations to make!  How are you preparing to receive afresh what the Lord has prepared for you?  In the midst of the busyness, where are your oases of waiting, of listening, of preparing to be ready for the Lord?

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