The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. - Luke 1:19
During the Christmas Season, we take part in multiple storylines. We enter the joyous cultural narrative of parties, of shopping, and of giving and receiving. We enter nostalgic places filled with candy, myth, music, decorations, and family. We share the joy and mystery through stories of elves and Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch.
As Christians, we are encouraged to enjoy and understand these storylines as the context of Christmas. It is the setting in which Christmas truly happens. Christmas is the good news that God breaks into all the storylines of our lives. God invades mangers and churches, houses and apartments with the glorious news of God among us… God present to us.
In the gospel of Luke, the in-breaking of God began in the most obvious place. An angel appeared to a priest in the inner chambers of the Holy Temple. One would expect that no one would be better equipped to recognize the movement of God in life than a priest. But the priest stumbled in disbelief. He had difficulty seeing beyond the bounds of religious ritual.
There is both grace and warning to us in this story. It is graceful to know that Zechariah was slow to grasp the good news of God breaking into his life. All too often, we are slow to grasp the Presence of God breaking into our lives. But there is also warning. It is all too easy for us to get caught up in the many storylines of Christmas… including the religious storyline of church ritual and practice. It is precisely in Christmas that we are reminded that Jesus Christ is come to infuse our religion with meaning. It is in Christmas that God has broken into every aspect of our lives… including our religion and our spirituality.
During the Christmas Season, we slow ourselves and wait expectantly for Jesus to break in and infuse our lives with the very Presence of God.
Lord Jesus, we invite you into the busyness and celebration of Christmas that surrounds us. We ask that you would open our hearts and our minds to be mindful of people and places and connection and celebration. But we ask for the special mindfulness that waits for and recognizes the in-breaking of God into our lives! So this season we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!” In Christ’s name, Amen.