Day 2: 23 Days until Christmas
This is the first Sunday of advent: Hope. In today's scripture we see hope take wings as the Message is carried to a remote town:
The sixth month refers to the pregnancy of Mary's cousin Elizabeth who is expecting a baby of her own; the beloved John the Baptist. If we thumb back a few verses, we can understand the significance of Gabriel when he visits Zechariah whose turn it is to bring incense (and prayer) to the inner parts of the temple. In that holy place few ever enter Gabriel appears to Zechariah with news of his coming baby and as Zechariah, puzzled, questions, Gabriel explains:
"I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God,"
- Luke 1:19a
Let us ponder Gabriel's self-defining statement.
1) What is it to stand in the presence of God?
2) What more must it be to receive an entity who has stood in the presence of God?
His statement reflects the authority which he carries.
Why does scripture exhaust such details as Galilee, house of David, and virgin? Prophecy and promise:
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
- Isaiah 9:1-2
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your [David's] offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.
- 2 Samuel 7:12-14a
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
- Isaiah 7:14
Old Testament is steeped in signs and prophecy which foretell the HOPE of Christ. The wording in these first two verses of our countdown advent beginning with Luke is meant to set the stage of something POWERFUL, wonderful and truly amazing about to happen. Let us tremble in awe and reverence as a messenger of God, one who stands in His presence makes his way to a young unsuspecting woman who, up to this point, was simply counting down the days until her marriage ceremony might be complete with her espoused.