What's Your Favorite Christmas Song?
I heard on the radio this morning that the runaway favorite on the “Billboard” charts is Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”. Apparently that one has been on the top of the charts during this season for years. Maybe that song is a favorite of yours; or maybe some others come to mind, like the classic hymns of the season. Choosing a favorite among those hymns is like trying to choose a favorite child; it can’t be done!
During this Advent season, we’ve been exploring “Christmas in the Gospels” and this week we’re taking a look at Luke. Luke actually included two “songs” on his Christmas playlist… Zechariah’s song (Luke 1:67-79) and Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55). In their songs, and their stories, there are at least four Advent challenges for us. I’ll cover the two lessons from Zechariah and I encourage you to listen to the message link below for two more challenges from Mary’s story.
Zechariah is the first person that Luke mentions in connection with the Christmas story. Luke tells us that he and his wife Elizabeth were good, God-honoring people. When we meet them, they are well-past their child-bearing years and have no children. Zechariah was a priest, and one week while he was performing his priestly duties in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him he and Elizabeth were going to have a child and that this child would pave the way for the Messiah!
I’m sure Zechariah was surprised by that news, even though it must have been pretty exciting to him. When he got this news, 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18. Zechariah’s first reaction was disbelief and doubt; and as a result, God made him unable to speak until his son was born. (Luke 1:20)
What is the opposite of doubt? You could answer: belief, certainty, confidence. There is a Biblical word that comes to mind for me. It’s a word we associate with the Christmas story- hope. Hope in the Bible means “no doubt.”
That leads us to an Advent challenge… Place your hope in the Lord. In other words, don’t doubt Him. There are a lot of things we might wrongly place our hope in that will let us down, but God never will! He proved it by sending a Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. When we hope in the Lord, there is “no doubt” in Him. (Ps. 33:20-22)
It’s easy to beat Zechariah up for his doubt and disbelief; but we should probably take a moment to ask ourselves if we’re listening to what God is telling us during this Christmas season. Are we fully engaged in the message of Christmas? Christ offers hope to the hopeless. If you are feeling hopeless these days, you’re looking in the wrong places. Look to Christ who offers hope to the hopeless.
The next time Zechariah is mentioned is after the birth of his son. At the child’s circumcision, Elizabeth’s family and friends wanted to name the baby Zechariah Jr. but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be John (1:59-60). When they asked Zechariah what the baby should be named, he wrote on a tablet, 63 …“His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:63-64
What Zechariah says next reveals the change in his heart and the growth in his faith over his nine months of silence; it’s called “Zechariah’s Song”. (Luke 1:68-79).
Challenge #2 - Search for some silence this season to help you focus your heart and mind on Christ and the peace He offers you.
I know it’s tough; there’s so much to do this time of year that sometimes we forget what we absolutely must do… Get our hearts and minds prepared to receive the Good News of the birth of the Savior of the World!
What if we were as intentional about creating times of stillness and silence in our lives these days as we are at crossing items off our endless lists? What if we made sure that each day there was time carefully carved into our chaotic schedules to make time for the Lord… to focus on Him? To hear from Him? To prepare our hearts for Him?
Would you intentionally set aside time every day to be silent and still? To read and reflect on His Word? To pray? To seek Him? To submit fully to Him? If you want to find peace this season, and in every season of life, silence may be key. When you tune out the noise around you, it allows you to hear from God as you reflect on His Word and open your heart to Him. When you do, like Zechariah, you will find yourself ready to praise God for Who He is and all He has done in your life. You will discover the hope, love, peace and joy we celebrate during this wonderful season!
For much more, including two Advent challenges from Mary’s song, click here to listen to: Christmas in the Gospels - Part 3 - Luke.