week three of advent
Singing the Story #1 – The Song of Zechariah (The Benedictus)
You can imagine Zechariah, after nine months of being unable to speak, opening his mouth to prophecy after the birth of his son. In this piece of prophetic poetry, he uses Old Testament language to express how God is worthy of praise because he has acted according to his promises (Gen 22:16-18) to deliver his people through a descendant of David. In the second part of the song (verses 76-79) Zechariah addresses his newly born child, with literary allusions to Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1.
Luke 1: 68-79
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we,
being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Shedding some light...
When we sing the songs of Advent, in many ways we are singing the song of Zechariah.
We are singing songs founded on the images and promises of hope and expectation. By the time of Zechariah the Jewish people hadn’t heard from a true prophet of God in four hundred years. (Knowing this, you can start to understand Zechariah’s hard heart in the face of Gabriel’s message of good news.) For us, it has been over two thousand years since we have heard from the living Jesus. Every year we remember his birth, and the advent of the good news of his work. As we remember, we also hunger and long for him to return to complete the work of redemption in our lives and in the created world.
God, don’t let the celebration of Christmas and all that it brings cause us to stop longing for your return to earth to make everything right—forever.
Dear Father, help us to be rooted in the salvation history of your people. Help us to find hope and rest in your mighty works in history. During this season especially, quicken our spirits to meditate on the birth of Jesus Christ in history, the continued gift and work of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ promised return. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Speed the day of your return.
Advent Singing: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
Advent Devotional Guide Download
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Compilation and Text
Ladye Jane Vickers
CHRIST THE KING PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
PO Box 10095 | Raleigh, NC 27605
919-546-0515 | www.ctkraleigh.org