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Advent – Learning to Prep for the Promise – Part 4

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah (The Lord Remembers), who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah (God is my father). His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron (Exalted), and her name was Elizabeth (My God is an oath). 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Luke 1:5-7

Luke places these characters, Z (Zechariah) & E (Elizabeth), in front of us to remind us that in the middle of the pain of a people and cultural tension is the personal trauma and burden we might each bear in our day-to-day living. 

Let me quote again Essau McCaulley’s insight here, 

“Why would such a people who have every reason for cynicism put their faith in a God whose promises seem long delayed? The answer that Zechariah and Elizabeth provided is memory. When faced with the delay of redemption, they remembered. Luke speaks of those in their generation who were looking for “the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). The phrase “consolation of Israel” comes from Isaiah 40. The latter portions of Isaiah repeatedly speak of a second exodus in which Israel would again be free. The first exodus served as the basis for the hope of a second act of God’s redemption. John, their son, would articulate the same hope for a new exodus. That is why his ministry would take place near the Jordan—that locale through which God opened a way into the Promised Land. The exodus, then, was a focus of hope for his family.” 17

In the passage above, I embedded the meanings of Z and E’s names: Zechariah – The Lord Remembers and Elizabeth – God is my Oath/my Promise.

To break the silence of hopelessness of brokenness or barrenness in a community/nation or individually, we must become people who dare to live in the present because we can remember our God’s faithful history with us in our past when He was liberator and savior, hope bringer, promise keeper, and life restorer yesterday. We can pull that into the hope of these truths into our present. Advent allows us to remember that we dare to say our God is good in the present and our future is bright because of Who and What He has done in our past, in Z & E’s past, and the people of God’s past. 

Why? Because God sees us like Z and E and remembers us, so we must not forget Him.

A Holy Appreciative and Prepped People is a Remembering People!

Remember is a verb: to have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past).

To remember is more than to put something to memory as a piece of knowledge but to put into both your heart and mind something/someone known, seen, and experienced. It is embodied. 

Remember, 400 years of silence to the people of God, and Luke uses Z & E as real examples who prophetically, in their name and identity, call us back to a principle of remembrance!

Remember, He made an oath! We are not calling on promises as things to be done but as people who know a God, both seen and experienced. 

Luke walks us through an essential series of events in the lives of Z and E before the fulfilled promise is revealed in Jesus.

Almost as if to say in these 400 years of silence, GOD has been in the prep for the big reveal, ME!  

Even the fact of Luke inserting Elizabeth’s pregnancy is a miracle for sure, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility because it is a story of remembrance. 

Luke shares with us the story and evokes our imagination to say, “Remember when God did this before?” Remember, the child of promise, Isaac, was born of a woman long past birthing age. Remember the promise God gave to Abraham, and by the way, it was a covenant not just for the Israelites but for the seeds of nations who will come under His grace and mercy. Again, the line of diversity throughout Scripture connects us. 

Luke tells us that our God has not changed and that a delayed dream or promise is not a denied dream or promise, but He is still looking for a people willing to holy prep and steward it by remembering.

How do you remember while waiting? Is your memory leading you to deeper levels of his unfailing love and trust? 

Recently, I heard that remembering leads us to gratitude! I love that! Remembering is about our story, God’s story, to share and re-share. For us to remember when God did this, we were so grateful for how He acted and showed up.  

How are you remembering as you are remaining actually producing gratitude?

Yet we, too, like Z and E, must recognize that most good triumphant stories are not without obstacles.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Luke shares the story of Z and E with us to remember that the most unusual characters in the Christmas story still have an important story to share. They are not the stars of the Christmas story, but they definitely bring light to who we are as we wait for the arrival of Jesus.

Advent is about waiting for promises.

Advent includes the marginalized.

Advent is about remembering our promises.

Advent is about remaining and enduring until the promise comes.

Advent is a holy prep to see God answer bigger than our requests.

Advent is Jesus…and Advent is for people like you, and I. Z & E prove that for us.

Thanks, Luke, for allowing us to see and hear the story of Z and E. They are true Advent heroes.

You are loved!

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