Hope: A Teaching and Meditation for the First Week of Advent
“Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Zechariah’s prophecy)
Luke 1: 78-79
The Prophet’s Candle of Hope
This first week of Advent is marked by lighting the Prophet’s candle symbolizing the hope we have in the coming of our Savior. Typically, readings come from the book of Isaiah and we reflect on the hope the nation of Israel clung to for so, so long. A hope we rejoice in seeing fulfilled, and sometimes take for granted that the chosen people of God also rejoiced in.
An Unlikely Prophet
Instead of Isaiah, however, we’re going to focus on the New Testament prophecy from Zechariah. He was someone who faced an angel, was told he would be an integral part of the workings of the Lord, and had a very human response. He doubted.
The priest Zechariah is the first person in the Book of Luke to enter into the story of the birth of the Savior when the angel Gabriel tells him that he will father John (the Baptist) in his old age. Zechariah then questioned Gabriel with doubt. Gabriel immediately strikes Zechariah mute for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John.
Once Elizabeth has the baby, and Zechariah indicates that his name will be John, the Lord frees Zechariah’s tongue and he immediately praises the Lord. Zechariah then prophesies about John’s role in ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven, and the coming of Christ.
Our scripture reading for this week is just a part of that full prophesy. I encourage you to take some time this week to read Luke 1: 67-79.
A Symbol of Change
I chose this passage because it came from a very real person with real doubt that shows us how powerfully God was changing the world at the time. Zechariah was right at the beginning of the Christmas story, yet couldn’t see what was happening. Through his months of silence, however, we see a drastic change in Zechariah. As the Lord opens Zechariah’s eyes to the fulfillment of His plan, his heart is opened, and finally, when his mouth is opened, we get the benefit of hearing this changed heart in his praises and prophecy.
He is symbolic of the old ways, of the world and our lives before Christ: not understanding, not seeing, unable to produce life, and yet his heart is changed and he is used. He and Elizabeth are older and beyond producing children just as the Law had become outdated and obsolete. But with one last miracle of life for the older generation, they’re about to usher in the final prophet and make way for the new: a new covenant–“the dawn from on high”– brought to the world through a girl so new, her pregnancy can only be seen as a miracle as well.
Here’s a look at my dialogue with the Holy Spirit while meditating on this passage. This is just a model to get you started. Meditating on scripture is a very personal journey and relationship with God, but you may find my Meditation Guide helpful. Subscribe now to my Newsletter and get immediate access to a Free Printable Library that includes a Meditation Journal Page for this verse.
Because of our God’s merciful compassion — Lord, your mercies are endless. I cannot fathom the depth of your mercy toward us–I am so loved–I am so cherished. Not because of who I am, but because of who you are. I am silent and pause to be in the presence of our compassionate God.
the dawn from on high — Jesus is our new day. Our fresh start. I pause and think on the beauty of the newness of the day, of a life in Christ. I pause and am thankful for a new covenant with God.
will visit us — Jesus came for a time and for a purpose. Even before his birth, we knew he would only be with us for a short stay. A visit. What a powerful visit. I pause and think on the miracle of Jesus’ life’s work.
to shine — Jesus, as the dawn of a new day, shines. I pause and think of the light, the warmth, the understanding, the comfort, that he brought. Hope.
on those who live in darkness — What darkness does Jesus shine on? The darkness of the Law, of sin, of strongholds in my life. I stop and allow his light to shine through my being.
and the shadow of death, — we walk in the shadow of death. Without the light of Christ, we have fallen. But his light overcomes death. His life conquered the shadow. I pause and am thankful.
to guide our feet — His life, his word, his spirit, guides every step and path I’m on. I pause and picture the light of Christ guiding me.
into the way of peace.–Peace with God. What a miracle. Only through Christ. I am humbled and thankful.
Suggested Breath Prayers
For more info on Breath Prayers, visit the article You’re Just a Breath Away From God.
His merciful compassion
Dawn from on high
Shine on Darkness
Guide my feet
Way of peace
We are called to meditate on scripture throughout the day, so to help all of us, I post a daily reminder in my Facebook Group. It even includes the weekly scripture for easy reflection.
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