Vol 8 No. 51 A Christmas Blessing …May You Burn Your Dinner

 

Dear Folks,

 

The Christmas story is rife with those who in the course of life’s ordinary activity found themselves
overcome by the presence, power and story of God.

Joseph the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was struck speechless.

Luke 1:5-24
New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to

the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of
them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees
blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they
were both very old.

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he

was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of
the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the
assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of

incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the
angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife
Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight
to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of
the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the
Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the
Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to
turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the
righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

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.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent
to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to
speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come

true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long

in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen
a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife

Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, greeting her cousin Mary (a rather ordinary event) only to find herself in the
power of the Spirit breaking into a spontaneous burst of joy and song.

Luke 1:41-45
New International Version (NIV)

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was

filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my
Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the
baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would
fulfill his promises to her!”

Joseph went to sleep one night determined to break his betrothal to Mary and woke up after a
dream (and a visit from an angel) quite determined to do the opposite and marry her.

The shepherds are minding their own business one night doing what shepherd do and the angel of
the Lord appeared to them and they were terrified.

These are but four examples of the drama of Christmas; never mind the persistently curious Wise
Men and Mary who “Treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”

Luke 2:18-20
New International Version (NIV)

18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary
treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as
they had been told.

These are stories about others.

What about each one of us?

What about me?

Can the awesomeness of Christ’s birth “overwhelm my ordinary”; distract me from the common-place
to the Holy.

I was greatly met and re-claimed by the Spirit this year as I listened to the Children’s Pageant at church
this year. It was entitled “What Can This Mean” written by Jennifer Milley; it was, like Jennifer and other
writers before her like Susan Ferguson at the church, brilliant, funny and instructive.

There was a scene that depicted the plainness of our tasks and lives (all quite worthy) that are
contrasted with the wonder, awesomeness and radical reality of the birth of Jesus. The phrase that
struck me, literally spiritually struck me was, these things are so awesome that they are enough to
“make you burn your dinner”. Here is a section from the play written from the point of view of the
gospel writer Luke’s aunt:

“Not a word of a lie. Elizabeth, an old woman, pregnant, and Mary, a young maid,
pregnant, too! Well I never! But, as I’ve just said, there was more to it even than that.
“Mother of my Lord!” Was that really what Elizabeth said to Mary? Lukey, let me tell you, I
burnt your uncle’s lunch that day, I was so startled and surprised by what I had overheard.
“Mother of my Lord?” “Mother of my Lord?” What could it mean? Could there really be a
Messiah coming, I wondered? But, a child? Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to be our king?
These are the kind of thoughts, I warn you, Luke, that make you burn a dinner.”

May we in the midst of our self-created clutter and business forget the ordinary. May we forget the
ordinary in order to have it displaced by the Holy person and presence of the Lord Jesus.

Two Christmas blessings:

So from Mary, who treasured and pondered the words of Christmas in her heart.

From “Luke’s aunt” this Christmas in Holy forgetfulness may you burn a dinner….and be the better for it.

 

Warmly,

In Christ and Merry Christmas,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

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