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Peace in comfort

Editor's Note

About the author: John currently serves on the Board of Deacon at ZPC. He and his wife Linda have been members of ZPC for 20 years.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: LUKE 1:39-56

In the verses immediately preceding today's scripture passage, the Virgin Mary has just been honored with the stunning revelation that she will bear God's one and only son. One can only begin to imagine the amount of anxiety Mary was feeling as she was trying to process the impact of the news the Angel Gabriel delivered to her. This young woman, betrothed to the carpenter Joseph, was pregnant. How would God help her through this time as she worried about Joseph's reaction to the news? Would her family cast her aside? Would she be in danger from the townspeople of Nazareth, as word eventually spread?

Within the first chapter of the gospel of Luke we learn that Mary and a woman named Elizabeth are related in some way. Elizabeth was in the sixth month of a near miraculous pregnancy herself. She and her husband Zechariah were advanced in age, and Elizabeth feared she was well past the point in her life of giving birth. However, the Angel Gabriel alerted Zechariah six months prior that Elizabeth and he were to be blessed with a boy they were to name John. Well, we're told that Mary spent the next three months with Elizabeth and Zechariah.

What joy and comfort Mary and Elizabeth must have brought to each other in this highly unusual time in their lives. Suddenly, Elizabeth and Zechariah would understand the divine purpose of their soon-to-be-born son (John the Baptist). God was enacting his plan to bring salvation to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ through two very special women. And, Mary was provided the time to more fully appreciate her role and to find a sense of peace in the blessing bestowed on her. We see evidence of that in the words of "Mary's Song" as Luke records in verses 46-55.

Surely the Angel Gabriel announced both a miraculous birth and an immaculate birth to the whole world as realized through these two extraordinary women!

Activity:

Reflect upon a period of time in your life whenever a close friend or relative provided comfort to you.  

Prayer:

Lord,

We thank you for the comfort and peace Elizabeth and Mary provided to each other. And, we ask for the Holy Spirit’s influence upon each of us so that we can provide comfort and peace to a special individual in our lives.  

Amen.

Posted by John Hicks with

Peace be with you

Editor's Note

About the author: Emily Elmore and her husband Ryan are members of ZPC. They have three boys that keep them on their toes and they serve as ZPC Home Group Leaders.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Matthew 1:18-25

Two of our three boys are old enough to sit and read through our day-by-day advent calendar. Each day so far we’ve read a little bitty part of the most grand birthday, and today’s scripture coincides with what we’ve read thus far.

As we revisit the various elements of Jesus’ birth throughout each Christmas season, we often can’t help but contemplate the events with full knowledge and awareness of the amazing end result. But if we try to place ourselves in the story, facing the same circumstances and feeling the same emotions, it can quickly become overwhelming. Mary, a virgin, is found to be pregnant in a society where adultery is punishable by death.  Joseph, while resolved to divorcing Mary quietly to protect his fiancé and remain faithful to the law, must still feel tremendous personal turmoil in upending his plans for a future with Mary. 

At this moment, I imagine anxiety and uncertainty would be running at an all-time high, wondering what their individual futures would bring.  However, this is the moment when God stepped in to bring peace to the couple. He sent his angel to speak to Joseph and let him know that God had a plan in this. In a moment, Joseph’s perception of the situation was changed. While he still faced tremendous uncertainty, he had the opportunity to feel peace in the moment, knowing that he was playing his part in God’s plan. He obeyed God’s messenger and took those steps toward Bethlehem that have become so familiar to us. 

Throughout our lives, and especially during the holiday season, we can find ourselves faced with stressful or frightening circumstances with no certain outcome. While we don’t often receive a proclamation directly from an angel, we have the opportunity to recognize all of these circumstances are part of God’s plan on earth and to proceed joyfully with peace.

Peace be with you this holiday season.

Activity:

Reflect on a time you faced frightening circumstances. How did you react and who may have been there to support you along the way? 

Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you for the season of advent, and for reminding us of the miracle of your son’s birth every single year. Help us to put our trust in you when we are afraid or have doubt.

Amen.  

Posted by Emily Elmore with

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