The Good News
Luke tells us that one day a priest named Zacharias was serving in the Temple in Jerusalem. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said:
Zacharias, your prayers have been heard. Your wife is going to have a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you great joy and happiness— and many will share your joy at John’s birth. This son of yours will be a great man in God’s sight. He will not drink alcohol in any form; instead of alcoholic spirits, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he is in his mother’s womb. Here is his mission: he will turn many of the children of Israel around to follow the path to the Lord their God. Do you remember the prophecy about someone to come in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; someone who will turn the hearts of the parents back to their children; someone who will turn the hearts of the disobedient to the mind-set of the just and good? Your son is the one who will fulfill this prophecy: he will be the Lord’s forerunner, the one who will prepare the people and make them ready for God.
There is so much good news in this message.
Good news to Zacharias and Elizabeth, his wife; they will have what many couples hope for – a child – promise and hope for the future. And this child will bring great joy and happiness to his parents.
Good news for the world; this child will be great in God’s sight and filled with the Holy Spirit. John’s mission will be to turn the children of Israel back to God. He is the one prophesied about who will come in the spirit of Elijah; someone who will turn the hearts of the disobedient to the mind-set of the just and good, someone to prepare the people and make them ready for God.
Good news indeed.
And yet, Zacharias can not hear the good news. He is caught up in all the bad news of his time – the hated Roman occupation. Here he is, standing toe to toe with the angel Gabriel, who initially made him afraid (as angels seem likely to do), and he says, “How can I be sure of what you’re telling me? I am an old man, and my wife is far past the normal age for women to bear children. This is hard to believe!”
Understandably, this ruffles Gabriel’s feathers. Gabriel replies,” I am Gabriel, the messenger who inhabits God’s presence. I was sent here to talk with you and bring you this good news. Because you didn’t believe my message, you will not be able to talk— not another word—until you experience the fulfillment of my words.”
And we know the rest of the story. Zacharias does not speak again until the child is born. All of this to ask ourselves: How do we react to good news during challenging times? The hard times of a worldwide pandemic.
Good news - masks help contain the spread of COVID19. How can we trust?
Good news – there is a vaccine on the way. How can we trust?
Good news – a baby is coming who will turn the people back to God. How can we trust?
Good news – a baby is coming who will be the Christ, and he will be the light of the world. How can we trust this?
The angel Gabriel says John the Baptist will turn the hearts of the disobedient to the mind-set of the just and good. Jesus’s first words in the Gospel of Mark are: change your hearts and minds.
Both of these promised children point us toward turning our hearts to see the good news that is right in front of our eyes.
When Zacharias can finally speak again, he prophesies. His final words are:
All this will flow from the kind and compassionate mercy of our God. A new day is dawning: the Sunrise from the heavens will break through in our darkness, And those who huddle in night, those who sit in the shadow of death, Will be able to rise and walk in the light, guided in the pathway of peace.
In this time of Advent, waiting and hoping, trust the Good News that the Christ Child brings. Turn and see the new day dawning on us when we huddle in the night and the shadow of death. Because of our God's kind and compassionate mercy, we will rise and walk in the light and the pathway of peace.
Hear and trust this Good News.