Luke 1:5-17, Prepare
By Ross Ponder
Growing up, I used to hate going to church. It meant clip-on ties, singing old songs, and my parents’ friends bothering me. I knew that I was a cute kid; Mrs. Teegarden didn’t need to pinch my cheeks to communicate that.
Despite my vacuous excuses and banal protestations, my parents insisted that attending church is something we did as a family. We prepared for church by dressing up and showing up weekly.
As we continue on our Advent journey together as a parish, this story about Zechariah introduces another way of preparing. Zechariah spent his entire life learning how to perform his priestly actions to care for and maintain the Temple. Just as he was about to discharge those duties, an angel of the Lord appears—that’s never a typical thing!
In spite of all his preparation and study, Zechariah responds with fear and unbelief—a perfectly natural response! But the angel comforts him by announcing John the Baptist’s miraculous birth, not unlike God’s appearance to Sarah and Abraham. If one is ready to discharge their responsibility (just like Zechariah did!), God shows up to surprise, confound, and comfort.
Attending church was something my family of origin just did, and I came to love it. Going week after week, engaging in a intentional practice, transformed my thinking. God appeared and transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Lord, please prepare us for your light, and transform our thinking. Let us stand firm in the knowledge that you equip us to do the right thing. Amen.