December 2nd 2012, markedthe beginning of the Advent season and a time for Christians to begin preparing their hearts and turning their focus back to Christ and the wonderful news that is the coming of the savior of mankind. On this first day of Advent the scripture of focus comes from the Gospel of Luke:
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, foryour prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,even from his mother’s womb.16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” – Luke 1:5-25
Before Christ was to come onto the scene God chose to create a messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord. The coming Messiah was going to be a much bigger deal than anyone could have expected. The Jewish people expected and anticipated a coming political leader who would free them from Roman occupation and help restore Israel, but they did not expect that from among them would come one who would be God made flesh, or that through them all the nations of the world would be blessed and that the world would be redeemed.
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.
We should take this time to reflect on the knowledge that we are in need of a savior. The most basic principle of Christianity is that man is imperfect and unable to reach the standard that allow us to be truly with God. We must remember where we were, or for some of us where we are. We are a fallen people who, though capable of so much good, more often are passive or actively geared towards sinful and selfish desires.
Take time for a clear-minded examination of yourself. How often do you actually take the time to love those who annoy, hate, or inconvenience you? How often do you actually use your time, wealth, and resources to serve others rather than to add to your ever expanding pile of comforts? How often do you really take the time to thank God for all the wonderful gifts he has bestowed on you?
Do not fret if you find you are far below the threshold of perfection. God knew this before you did and that is why the coming of Christ was so important. He was the great equalizer and the washer of sins. He is the great purifier who knows your darkest sins and still chooses to give you grace, mercy, and love abounding. Do not take this time as one to beat yourself up, which accomplishes nothing, instead take this time to be grateful for what the Lord has done. Prepare the way of the Lord in your hearts and get ready for God to work in you this Advent season.