(I wrote these devotions in 2006. I sent them to various friends via email, but thought they would be a good addition to The Chambered Nautilus blogspot.)
Luke 1:13, 19, 30
Wal-mart has a countdown—three shopping Saturdays left until Christmas. I see this sign every time I walk through the store's entrance. At first the sign annoyed and frustrated me. It represented everything I do not like about this holiday season: panic, chaos, obligatory buying, rush, pressure, and disappointment. Tonight the sign looked different. It caused me to observe, examine, and reevaluate my attitude and traditional approach to this holy season.
Did heaven count down to the revelation and birth of Jesus? Did the heavenly host eagerly anticipate the day that the Holy of Holies would step into history and become one of us? Did they have the eternal time tagged of when the Creator of the universe would stoop low and enter through the door of humanity?
I wonder if Gabriel had the calendar marked? He was summoned into the presence of God, and there he was given a message of good news. The Holy One of Heaven whispered to Gabriel to announce that God was coming. Tell them I will live among my people. And in the fullness of time Gabriel pierced through the veils of heaven to the earth with the message.
Gabriel's message is for us also. Even now the good news he was commissioned to carry extends to us. Gabriel stands before us in this holy season and says, "Don't be afraid. Your prayers have been answered. Don't be afraid, you have found favor with God. Don't be afraid any longer; God With Us is coming to you."
Today may we be pierced by his message. May it change our approach to this Christmas season. Immanuel has come and is coming. We don't have to count down the days anymore. There is no need for panic. Breathe. Slow the rush—allow time to crawl. Cast off the pressure and the disappointment the world inflates.
Friends, He has arrived! Immanuel is present among us.
This is our good news: there are no more Saturdays.
O come, 0 come, Emmanuel
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.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.*
*Traditional Christmas Hymn
John Mason Neale