It’s amazing when this happens- reading a familiar passage from the Bible and SUDDENLY a phrase pops up with a freshness and relevance, as if you’d never noticed it before.
I started to read through Luke’s beautiful Gospel this morning to get me “in the mood” for the soon-to-be enjoyed celebration that must not be named too early… (your clue is there are only 78 sleeps until ……mas). Don’t tell anyone, it can be annoying- or so I am (frequently) told- but some of the shops have started already…
We need a few celebrations this year. I celebrated finding some petrol on Friday! Hope it isn’t a year until I can celebrate that again. The sun came out yesterday. Shops still have stocks of loo rolls. The caterpillar found in my fridge yesterday didn’t get as far as my lunch plate. Apparently they are nutritious, but still… Pardon the digression, as you can tell the news has been trying to derail my flatten my zest for life. Even the picture today is grey.
So Luke’s Gospel is a good choice. A sensible bloke who has thoroughly researched the evidence and is telling a narrative of world-changing power.
The temptation is charge ahead through the background stuff until you get to the best bits.
I made myself start at the very beginning and stay with the pace of the story unfolding through an obscure priest, his wife, and an angel. Babies for old folk and a wee slip of a girl… songs and silences, stubborn disbelief and eager faith. Hey, this is GREAT! Real people living in pretty dark days, and a messenger from Almighty God to say the ancient promises are still guaranteed- the world hasn’t been abandoned to despair.
Zechariah finds his voice, names the baby “John” as instructed, and bursts into a Spirit-filled prophecy. This is the last prophecy of the Old Covenant. In a matter of months, Mary will bring Jesus to birth; and He will be the means of fulfilling the prophecies from Abraham to Malachi.
Luke 1:74-75 (NLT) “We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”
These are words that opened the eyes of my heart this morning. “Without fear. In holiness and righteousness.“
World history ISN’T being written by Rupert Murdoch, venal politicians, and bloodthirsty dictators. Our future is NOT in the control of industrialists, economists, and bankers. Fear-mongers and idiots can only do so much damage- because God is STILL in control. The script was written before Creation began, and will reach its climax when, and only when, the Lord says.
A weight off the shoulders! So every generation since Zechariah became a Dad lives under a promise. Those who serve God can do so without fear, in holiness, and in righteousness.
So when the news bombards you with its chosen slant, when political leaders serve their own agenda instead of the people, when Truth seems to be on vacation, and self-interest outmotivates compassion- who are you going to trust? How will you choose to live, who will guide your path? We may feel surrounded by doom, gloom, and dunces: but God has spoken. “We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”