Great Anticipation Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, Because he has come and had redeemed his People…And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins…to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.
Luke 1:67-80

I faced the birth of my firstborn son Todd with great anticipation, but also with a considerable amount of anxiety. What would a 20-year old know about bringing up a child? It was almost overwhelming, and in one sense, my inadequate grasp of this wonderful and magnificent event was tantamount to being speechless. Yet, shortly after Todd’s birth, when the nurse held this red and crying infant for me to see, I must have felt something of the same thing that Zechariah felt when he first saw John. For a fleeting moment, after trying to count fingers and toes, I could have burst into song, for God had indeed touched my life. I think I briefly glimpsed the promise of the years unfold before my eyes.

Zechariah was a priest, holy and righteous. Yet he was also a man of life experience, so it is quite understandable that he believed that fatherhood for him was impossible. No couple that he had ever known had ever become parents at the advanced ages that he and Elizabeth attained. Yet, when Gabriel’s prophecy was fulfilled, Zechariah fully realized that all things are possible in God’s kingdom. He regained his lost ability to express himself and burst forth in praise and thanksgiving for this gift of a son, and a vision of John’s calling to prepare the way for the Kingdom of God to come near in the person of Jesus.

I believe that we as parents, are endowed by the Holy Spirit to share with our children the fruition of John’s preparation by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in our own time and place. Scott and I have been blessed that Todd, our older son, has matured into a loving and accomplished son who has shown much kindness and compassion to others.

We have also been similarly blessed with a second son, Davey, who although disabled, has taught us so much about the depths of unconditional love and the use of gifts and talents to the upmost of his ability. Recently, a former neighbor, who lost his only son much too early, and with whom we shared grief and sorrow, purposefully stopped one day while I was out walking to ask about Davey. After a brief conversation, she shared with me that, “When I see Davey, I see the face of God.” I was totally speechless; I never fully realized the light that Davey has shined on the others.

I believe that, like Zechariah, the music of the Lord has entered our souls to proclaim the joy and freedom of the Word of God.

Gary Rhodes
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Salisbury, NC

This devotional is a joint project between Christmas Lutheran (Bethlehem) and St. John’s (Salisbury, NC).

Great Anticipation Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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