14 day plan

The Birth of Jesus

Day 2 of 14

Luke 1: 11-15

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But 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 a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.

Reflection: The beginning of it all that Luke returns to is a place at the heart of Jewish devotion to the Lord. The beginning of a whole new world order is there in the shuffle of an old priest to his duties at the temple. It is there in drawing the lot to offer the incense on the altar, which was the highest of the duties of a priest and unlikely to occur more than once in a priest’s life, if that. But that day, Zechariah was chosen to offer the incense, the visible sign of the prayers of all God’s people who were waiting for the consolation of Israel, the Messiah. Zechariah entered the sanctuary. He placed the incense on the altar, he prayed for the salvation of his people and perhaps he slipped in a prayer, one of those impossible ones from the deep end of his heart. “Please give us a child”.

Zechariah may have thought that his whole life as a priest led up to the moment of offering incense. Or, he could have thought that his whole life was leading up to the promise of a son. And while both could be true, the Lord offers so much more. It is also the first sign in the fulfilment of the Lord’s ancient promises, etched into the hearts and minds of his people, the day of his coming.

The Lord keeps his promises and in the promise meets our deepest desires. Are we surprised by his ability and desire to do both? Do we doubt the possibility like Zechariah?

Prayer: Dear God, thank you that you can and do meet the deepest desires of your people. Please help me to trust you. Amen.