Scripture Reading: Luke 1:57-80
As I write this, I am 38.5 weeks pregnant… so, fairly miserable. If you’ve ever been in these shoes you know how uncomfortable I am. Everything hurts, I can’t bend over, and my primary method of communication with friends and family entails texts utilizing either the “rage face” emoji or gifs of very overweight cats. I’ve left my last two doctor’s appointments crying hysterically because I’M STILL PREGNANT. I’ve never been more impatient than this, anxiously awaiting the sweet relief of birth—and, of course, meeting our new baby.
And so, when I read about Elizabeth and Zechariah and the birth of their son, I feel every wave of their words and emotions. I know my own anticipation must be nothing compared to that of the barren Elizabeth and the mute Zechariah. I am humbled by their story. I wrestle with my own selfishness every day, shame filling my anxious heart, because I know there are so many who would give anything to be in my position. I imagine Elizabeth might’ve felt that way in the years leading up to her own pregnancy and the birth of her son.
Advent is our waiting season.
Maybe you’re waiting for a baby to be conceived or born or for an older child to come home. Maybe you’re waiting for healing or love, for reconciliation or freedom. If we’re honest, we’re all waiting for something. And collectively, whether we know it or not, we’re waiting for Jesus to come again, longing for the wrongs of this world to be made right. We live an everyday Advent, longing for the final, triumphant return of our King.
When he prophesies, Zechariah sings the song of an Advent people. He sings of the Lord’s steadfast faithfulness, and he knows it to be true. He blesses the Lord, remembering the Old Testament covenants that have brought the Jews to this point, recounting the promises God made to Abraham, to David, and to His people. They have been waiting 400 years to hear from the Lord, and even longer since Isaiah first told them a Messiah would come. They knew what it was to wait.
And then Zechariah prophesies over his baby son with a prayer I’ve adopted for my own children, and for my own calling:
“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 his salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.”
- Luke 1:76-79
Could that be our cry, our prayer, and our calling too? Just as John the Baptist would prepare the way for the incarnate Christ, we ought to adopt his mission as our own, harkening to the day when our Jesus will come again, giving knowledge of His salvation to those who don’t yet know Him. In doing so, we await His return with purpose, spreading the good news of our precious Savior to all who will hear.
Elizabeth waited. The Jewish people waited. And we wait too. But we know our King is coming, just as we’re sure of the coming sunrise—to give light to those who sit in darkness, and to guide our feet in the way of peace.
Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.