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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sermon 12052012 Advent 2 Mid-Week

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray! Gracious Heavenly Father, You sent Your angel to proclaim the fulfillment of Elizabeth and Zacharias heartfelt desire for a child, but our human condition of doubt entered into the equation.  May we not doubt Your promises, but believe, for You are unchangeable in Your divine will to set us free from our sins by sending our Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May our hearts continue to be prepared for Jesus coming as foretold by John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

In years past if someone were given the moniker “Pious”, it was usually greatly misunderstood.  If you were to use it in church circles, people considered that this person was ‘better’ than everyone else, even ‘closer to God’.  Yet tonight we encounter Elizabeth and Zacharias who were well known for their piety and devotion early in the New Testament.  Zacharias was devoted as a priest in the temple and Elizabeth was a good wife of her husband, both of them were good Jews.  Not unlike some couples today, Elizabeth and Zacharias wanted children and for years were not blessed with children’s pitter patter of little feet around the house.  They doubted they would ever have children.

Enter the angel of the Lord.  As we heard last week the angel while Zacharias was performing his priestly duties in the Temple saw the angel of the Lord.  And Zacharias was told of a child to be born to him and Elizabeth.  How does Zacharias respond, not with “Alleluia’s”, but with clear doubt saying, “How will I know this for certain?”  It is clear that Zacharias has human doubts and these cloud even the vision of an angel standing in front of him in God’s house around His altar.  Since Zacharias doubts even the angel of God, known as Gabriel, there are clear consequences that he will endure, he will be silent, unable to speak, but God though He could have, does not withdraw His promise through Gabriel of a son to be born to Elizabeth and Zacharias after such a long period of being childless.

We are no different today.  We have clear promises from God to us through His Word of the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Even when we doubt, God can and does accomplish His plans through us.  God still fulfills and reveals His glory to and for each of us today.  But there is a cost for our doubt, just as Zacharias found out in doubting the angel Gabriel and the plans of God.  We today sometimes doubt God’s potential provision, action and involvement here at Emmanuel, whether it was funding a Pastor full-time, getting enough money to make the church more energy efficient or even expanding the work of the church in the community, we honestly doubt God’s action and what can be done.  We pay the price for it, but in walking out in faith and not fear God will bless us and come in a most wonderful way.
For Elizabeth and Zacharias it would be the birth of their son, John the Baptist, who would herald the Savior by ‘preparing the royal highway’.  God still fulfilled His plan through these two pious servants for all of us today.  And God will fulfill His plan in the life of Emmanuel as well. 

We as God’s people are enabled by God to understand His divine will more fully as we tell and retell these stories of God’s action in the life of people like Elizabeth and Zacharias.  For we tonight continue to prepare our hearts, souls and spirits for the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ for all of mankind, not doubting God, but understanding that all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel are included in the preparation of our lives for the fulfillment of the promises of God of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.
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