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Editor's Note

About the author: Kira is a senior at Zionsville Community High School. She has been involved at ZPC for 3 years and has been a member for a few months! She is in Choralaires (ZCHS show choir) and is a cadet teacher in a first grade classroom at Stonegate Elementary School. She plans to go to college (undecided where) to double major in Christian Leadership and Business Management with a minor in Psychology.

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 1:57-66

There are many words I could use to describe my senior year, but one that would never come to mind is peace. College applications start in the fall, SAT and ACT scores come in, and everyone expects some extravagant blueprint of the future, as if I’m supposed to have a full understanding of what God’s plan is for me. In fact, the only word I can use to consistently describe this year would be overwhelming. It is easy to get caught up amidst the uncertainty of what is in store for the future, and the anxiety these unanswered questions may bring. However, times of anticipation, anxiety, and even fear are when we need to take a step back and breathe.

I know, everyone always says to breathe when you're stressed, worried, anxious, or scared, but, for real, it works. We all can relate to times where we feel like we are on the struggle bus and we will never reach our bus stop of relief, but this is where we must lift our burdens, to-do lists, and schedules to the Lord. With so many things out of our control, what more can we do?

Now, this is where Luke 1:57-66 comes into this picture of peace amidst the unknown. To give some context, I suggest reading Luke 1: 5-25. To sum it up, Zechariah has been approached by the angel Gabriel with a miracle. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s aging wife, is pregnant with a son that they had prayed tirelessly for and he was to be named John. Zechariah responds to Gabriel’s news saying, “...How can I be sure of this?...” (Luke 1:18). In response to Zechariah’s lack of faith in God’s will, the angel makes him mute until his son is born. As you can imagine, Zechariah becoming mute was not part of their plan, and was certainly not ideal with the journey they were about to embark on. I can only imagine the stress that was caused from this. A baby is on the way, and you can’t communicate to each other about all the logistics. How could they possibly have found peace amongst the unknowns that were soon to come? Sometimes God throws curveballs into our lives to enlighten us to how much we really need him. See, in Zechariah’s doubt, there was a bigger issue. He had lost sight of his faith and trust. During the busiest seasons of our lives, we can lose sight of the same things. Specifically, as Christmas approaches, we get caught up in finances, gifts, and the things that don’t actually matter, rather than focussing on the true joy and bliss of Jesus’s birth. Zechariah had no control over the situation, and there was nothing more he could do. He had no other option, but to find peace in what God had done and find joy and comfort in his promise.  

When Elizabeth’s baby was finally born, the people in her life could not have been happier for her. When the baby was 8 days old, it was time for him to be circumcised and named. Elizabeth suggested the name John and the people around her seemed confused, because traditionally, the child would carry a family name. Despite the confusion of her loved ones, Elizabeth stuck with her gut and they had Zechariah write a name on a tablet, and sure enough he chose John just as the angel had instructed him to do. Upon doing this, his speech was instantly restored. Zechariah had not only learned how to find peace throughout the challenging time of preparing for a new baby, but he had learned the importance that peace had in his life.

Peace is often a word that people gloss over. It’s hard to really feel at peace. Our lives are filled with long work days, exhausting school days, and busy weekends, but we cannot put peace on the back burner. Peace is not only a state of being, but it is a lifestyle. Finding peace throughout our busy lives takes actual effort. You have to consciously be looking for ways to find peace in your daily life, which is definitely harder than it sounds. Next time you are feeling pressure, stress, fear, anxiety, etc., stop for a few seconds, breathe, and pray. I promise you will feel his presence.

Activity:

Alright, here’s an easy activity that won’t take more than 1 minute. Next time you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to collect your thoughts, pray the prayer below, and think of things that you can find peace in, in that moment.

Here’s a few song choices that help me find peace:

Prayer:

Lord,

As I go throughout my day, doing the million things I have on my schedule, give me peace and comfort in your arms. Help me to find peace in my everyday routine, and help me to be mindful of your presence in my life.

Amen

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Posted by Kira Nieman with

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

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