Scripture Reading: Luke 1:68-79
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ –Luke 1:76-79
Our scripture today is the reported words of a late-life parent welcoming his first child. The priest Zechariah is cherishing his son whom we know now as John the Baptist. Zechariah knew all too well the lessons of waiting. He not only waited for years to hold that first born son but he had waited his whole life long for the promised Deliverer of his people. He celebrates his son’s leading the way for the coming One.
Somehow, as it often is within a materialistic world, the prospect of waiting at this time of year has morphed from awaiting a Savior to awaiting jolly old St. Nicholas to awaiting Santa Claus. Somehow we humans have turned the precious gift of God’s love into an economic necessity for prosperity and a source of feeding the greed that is epidemic in our land. In the past I have wished we could somehow separate the Santa Claus event from the birth of Christ. Actually the Santa Claus event can be a fun time for family gatherings and gift exchanges. It does not have to be weighted down with over extended expenditures and accumulations of stuff we do not need. But it really has nothing to do with the coming of Immanuel, God with Us. The church needs to take back and own the recognition of the coming of the Christ now and in the future and not try to make businesses enforce it in their quest toward their bottom lines.
We who do look forward to the rule of love on this earth have the responsibility to share the love of God with those who do not know it. The celebration of the birth of the Christ Child is one that most can comprehend and appreciate. Let us invite the world to our table.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.* Amen.
*Last verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel words by John M. Neale. See at http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/c/ocomocom.htm
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.