The Miracle of Christmas | Luke 1

Welcome to Real Life. In the midst of this festive season, I long for the supernatural to invade my natural. 
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”
—The Grinch
He pulls aside the heavy curtain and silently slips inside. “Don’t hurry,” Zechariah tells himself. “Savor this. It may be the only time you enter this holy place.” His eyes survey the room, taking in the detail of resplendent gold articles. “Lord, you are present,” he whispers. The thought disquiets him. But then, he hears his fellow priests praying for him beyond the curtain. His courage rises. He approaches the altar and lights fresh incense. As its sweetness adorns the room, Zechariah is overcome by a sense that he is not alone. 

Zechariah serves as a priest in the Temple of the Lord. Though every priest is intimately acquainted with the building, not every priest has entered the Most Holy Place. Each morning and evening, a single priest is chosen by lot to enter and refresh the incense which burns perpetually before the Lord.

Casting lots seems random, like tossing a coin. But Israel understands. The choice is not random. Casting lots removes man’s interference. God alone chooses the priest who will enter his Holy Place. God chose Zechariah. No doubt about it.

Zechariah inhales the fragrant incense and lifts his eyes. Before he can turn to leave, a magnificent sentinel appears before him. Startled, Zechariah takes a step back.

“Do not be afraid,” the angel tells the priest who cannot stop trembling. “Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son. You will name him John. His birth will bring great joy to many! He will be mighty in God’s sight, filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. Your son will turn Israel back to their God and prepare their hearts to receive him. For the Lord is coming!”

“But...” Zechariah stutters. “Elizabeth and I are well beyond child bearing. How can I be sure this will happen?”

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God Almighty. He sent me with this good news,” Gabriel declares. “But if this sign is not enough, you will not speak another word until your son is born.”

And so, it was.

I want to be Zechariah, enter the Most Holy Place, and tremble before a heavenly being. I long for the supernatural to invade my natural. As I pondered this, the Lord gently whispered, “It already happened.”

Every day, I choose you. 

Every day, I invite you to pull aside the curtain and enter my Most Holy Place. Will you come? Will you experience the miraculous? For this is why I was born in Bethlehem. To be Emmanuel. God with you.

About that heavy curtain... At the moment Jesus Christ died, the veil of the temple was rent in two—top to bottom. The very same veil Zechariah pulled aside. No longer would the privileged few enter God’s presence. His door is open to all, billionaire and homeless, uneducated and scholar, giver and thief.

This is the miracle of Christmas! God loves you and me so dearly. He came to rescue us. Born a helpless infant. Died to win our ransom. Alive forevermore. He chooses you!

O come, O come, Emmanuel[1]
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Take it further...

[1] Excerpts of the hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"


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