24 December 2013

Luke 1:67-79

“Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant.” (v. 72)


Christmas Eve and households across the wealthy West and westernised of the world have hopes high that promises will be kept. Children are best at longing for Christmas without too much compromise of altruistic thoughts and holy considerations. They want 'stuff' and the day that is coming seems unbearably far away. In a strange way I sense they would understand the aching longing of Zechariah, better than most of us who have grown accustomed to disappointment and unanswered prayers for ourselves and others. There is a charming innocence in childish greed that must find its adult form in the sharing of God's hopes for the world.

Two thousand or so years ago the ancient promise of God was fulfilled, and yet we continue to live in a world where the fullest working out of the promise is yet to be seen. Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks eternal words into present circumstances and still we sit in the darkness that his prophesy promises will end. We can perhaps name the darkness; sometimes we feel it sapping our energy and undermining our confidence. Like children waking far too early on Christmas morning 'waiting and waiting and waiting' for the time when pillow cases can release their goodness, we have to bear the waiting pain of God who seeks to give birth to new life in partnership with humanity.

Hope is the painful product of promises made by the trustworthy one who speaks into the dark times of light. It is painful because it is not yet light and because we cannot simply pretend the promise is not worthy of our faith. God's goodness is our daily experience not least in times of trouble, and so Zechariah's spirit-inspired words do nothing to ease our hopeful discomfort, and instead invite us to enter the kingdom as children who still brave the longing of Christmas Eve.

To Ponder

  • What do you really long for? and dare you pray for it for Christmas!?
  • What gift would you most like to give God and if it seems hard to do, what makes it so?


Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.