The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold Wednesday, December 8, 2021

13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
Luke 1:13-15a

Oh, Mighty Lord. How Great thou art. How Great thou art. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, oh Lord for your presence in our daily life. You extend your support to us in many different and unexpected ways that exceed our imagination! Above all, we remain humans. We often fail to understand your plans that you prepared for us and for our future. So, we ask you, oh Lord, not to leave us alone during our daily challenges. Help us to dedicate our souls to you, to open our hearts and minds to listen to your words.

Help us to have a strong faith like Zechariah, who did not give up even when all the chances are seemingly gone. Zechariah did not lose his faith in you oh Lord. Zechariah kept your words in his heart and challenged all the people around him. He was faithful and surrendered completely to you.

Oh Lord, you promised Zechariah that you would give him joy and gladness and let him rejoice at the birth of his son. The birth of John who came to this world by a miracle. Nowadays, as we are preparing ourselves for Christmas, we remember John the Baptist who set the road before you and baptized the people on the Jordan River.

As a baptized Christian community, we stand before you, Lord, and witness the birth of Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem. On top of that, we are witnessing the birth of Jesus in our hearts. Let us carry the love that Jesus gave us to one another and remember that baby Jesus defeated the largest armies of the ancient world with the love He brought to this world. Herod the Great’s words still echo in the Jerusalem desert: How is it that Baby Jesus defeated the strongest armies? How is it that He escaped the babies’ massacre in Bethlehem? How is it the Holy family managed to escape to Egypt and save baby Jesus? How is it that this Love that came to this little town of Bethlehem was capable to spread all over the world within the absence of media and technology? How is it that this Love that was born in the manger of Bethlehem delivers power and hope to all weak and poor on earth? How is it that famous kings and emperors in the ancient history were forgotten and the name of Jesus Christ is still alive, king of kings and Lord of Lords?

From the other side of the Jerusalem desert, John the Baptist words heard echoing and answering Herod the Great: “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, dear Brothers and sisters in Christ, by these words we are sure that God is just and faithful. Jesus promised to give us joy and gladness that we do not deserve in the first place, but in Grace, we unite with God by the Holy Spirit and have an eternal life. Amen.

Sami Abu Ghazaleh
Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem

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

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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