The Promise of Hope
Wednesday - December 2nd
"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 2
Scripture to Read Today: Luke 1:5-25
"And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
The North America Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said last week that plans are underway for this year's Santa Tracker. COVID-19 is forcing some changes to the annual tradition. Fewer volunteers will be available to take calls. Callers will receive a recorded call back. Kids love to follow Santa's travels around the world through NORAD's Christmas fun.
The Santa Tracker program started in 1955 when a local Sears store in Colorado Springs printed a newspaper ad. The ad invited children to call a specific phone number to talk to Santa. The number was misprinted, and the calls ended up going to NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command. The colonel on duty that night realized the mistake. He ordered his officers and troops to start tracking Santa using the military systems and telling the kids where Santa was throughout the night.
After Christmas Eve services over the years, several kids have told me they are going home to check out Santa's progress. They anticipate the excitement of where Saint Nick's travels have taken him and how far he is from their house. Their wide eyes and stuttering speech give away the level of anticipation they have for the Santa Tracker website or phone bank. Even in the playful make-believe of tracking Santa, hope stirs anticipation. Even though the Old Testament ended with little realized hope, it ended with the anticipation of the Messiah - the redeemer of Israel and the Savior of the world!
According to Luke 1:6, Zechariah, the priest, and his wife Elizabeth "were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly." It had been 400 years of waiting since God's people, Israel, had heard anything about the coming Messiah. By the description of their lives, Zechariah and Elizabeth would be the type of Jews who would be anticipating His arrival.
When Gabriel appeared before Zechariah inside the temple and told the priest that he and his wife would have a son who would be the forerunner to the Messiah, Zechariah could not believe it. The angel said that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a son, and that son would fulfill what the last chapter of the Old Testament promised. Their son would be the forerunner to the Messiah.
Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth might have been anticipating the Messiah and His forerunner, they were old. They were unable to have children. What Gabriel said seemed impossible to Zechariah. Zechariah questions the possibility that Elizabeth could now give birth to a son. Gabriel told the unbelieving priest that he would be dumb - unable to speak until after the child was born. The promise was true. He did not talk until the miraculous birth of their promised son, John (the baptizer), was born.
Sometimes hope is hard to see because of the realities of our life circumstances. Most of us would respond similarly if we were in Zechariah's shoes (um, sandals). We anticipate what God has for us but often discount what he can do because we believe our circumstances would be too hindering for Him. Let us learn from Zechariah's mistake. Let's take God at His Word. Let's rest in the hope He offers us - no matter how much our circumstances might contradict what he promises.
We need the anticipation of a child - trusting in the hope God offers us even if our circumstances seem to make it impossible.