If you missed the first part of this post, read here: This Christmas…Choose to Believe Part 1.
And your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
This Christmas…choose to believe you will have joy.
Then came the shocking news that there will be a baby. This first message of Christmas turns fear to joy at the news of a baby who will fulfill prophecies and prepare the hearts of many to receive the Christ. This prophecy ushers in the plan of God working in the canvas of human lives–the sacred in the midst of the ordinary:
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Miracle child to a couple half-dead, this baby’s calling is part of this first message of Christmas.
This Christmas…choose to filled with the Holy Spirit.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit–this is also part of the message of Christmas. Ages prior to this angel’s message, the Holy Spirit was sometimes given to rest “on” individuals to empower them for a specific calling. In goes deeper than on, and John will be filled with the active presence of God speaking out from within.
One of the on-going gifts of Christmas is that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Holy God takes residence in the manger of our lowly human hearts. The extraordinary meets the mundane. No longer in need of angels to convey messages, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, the presence and purpose of God.
This Christmas…choose to believe in the power of reconciliation.
Another aspect of this first message of Christmas is the story of reconciliation–hearts mended and strife turned around. Sinful hearts turn back to God. Hearts of fathers lean heavy to their children, a thousand arguments and rebellions forgiven and put away. That which has gone wrong in relationships is set right for one divine purpose–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
This Christmas, breathe in the story of reconciliation.
As the first message of Christmas continues, Zacharias does what many would do as he struggles to stretch his limited mind around the angel’s words. Had I been standing there beside the altar, listening to the voice of an angel, would I struggle to believe or would my spirit leap with faith? This struggle is also part of this first message of Christmas. Will we believe the message? Will we accept the One before us–the miracle of God clothed in the soft skin of a baby?
Like Zacharias, we can point to logic and count our problems. We can look back instead of forward. We can lose sight of what can be in the face of what is. Like Zacharias we can get lost in the “how can this be’s” of Christ. Clinging to our desire for certainties, we can cheat ourselves of the wonder of faith. We can let doubt silence faith or we can choose to let faith silence doubt. Which will you choose this Christmas?
How will I know for certain…
Inspite of his questions that called for proof, Zacharias’ lack of faith did not deter God’s answers, the gift of hope long waited for. Maybe the greatest consequence of disbelief renders us unable to tell the wonder of God.
I count up so many times I have struggled–what gracious blessing to see that our frailties of faith do not stop God.
The story of the first Christmas message continues with the rounding belly of a woman pregnant with desire fulfilled. In quiet content with life growing strong within, Elizabeth completes this first message of Christmas. Rejoicing in God’s favor, she feels that sweet favor turn and kick against her ribs. “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me when he looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men” (Luke 1:25).