What are you waiting for?
We are not accustomed to waiting. We like our drive-thru’s and self-checkouts and microwaves. We are immersed in cultures that provide what you want, when you want it. And if we do not get what we want, the way we want it, when we want it, we are able to go somewhere else to get it. With modern technology, we have a near infinite amount of information and entertainment right at our fingertips. Over years, and even decades, of being immersed in that kind of culture, we are conditioned to see waiting as a nuisance which makes us frustrated and even angry.
Is that the way to follow Jesus today?
With the ability to spend minimal amount of energy to avoid waiting, we come to think that we are in control of life – that our lives happen on our timeline. Only to get the painful reminder that we are not truly in control when we are forced to wait. But what if being forced to wait provides us with an opportunity? What if waiting is the moment we can recognize that yes, we are not in control but we can trust God who is in control?
This week, the reading plan will focus on an elderly couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were righteous and devout, but childless and unable to have children. In this part of the Nativity story, we are invited to see our lives through this couple – waiting, hoping, and praying, yet being disappointed and discouraged. Suddenly their lives are interrupted by an angel who says, “Your prayers have been heard.”
We encourage you to reflect on these questions as you read this story this week:
What are you being forced to wait for? What have you been hoping for that doesn’t seem to be happening like you want it to? Has disappointment and discouragement creeped in? What would it mean to release control to God and trust Him with your hopes? What would your prayers be while you wait?
Allow Psalms 130 to be with you all week as a prayer that expresses your hopes and your trust in God.
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
My Soul Waits for the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.