God has a funny way of doing things. Almost always it’s so different than how we would do them. Like his announcement that after many centuries of waiting for the prophecies to come true it was time: the Christ was finally coming!
You would think that God would enlist legions and legions of his glorious angels to ride across the skies in chariots of fire as they trumpet the wonderful news to people around the world. And he did enlist angels to deliver messages to a few unlikely people: an old man, a virgin and then her fiancé, and some poor shepherds. And he also put a bright, miraculous star in the sky above Bethlehem that three astronomers noticed and followed.
But before any of his amazing revelations to these scattered misfits God gave what you could say was his first public announcement that Christmas was about to arrive..
Do you have a figure of Zechariah in your nativity set? I do! He was John the Baptist’s father. Maybe you haven’t thought about him being part of the Christmas story.
When the priest Zechariah went into the holy of holies of the Temple for the annual ritual of obtaining God’s forgiveness for all the people the angel Gabriel descended upon him with the news that his barren wife would have a son, even in her old age, and this son would prepare the way for the Messiah that the prophets had foretold hundreds of years ago. But Zechariah thought this glorious news was to good to be true and so he came out of the temple unable to speak! (Luke 1:5-25).
The first Christmas was finally at hand and God’s way to share the good news with humanity was in silence!
We might think that Zechariah was being punished by God for his lack of faith, but I am sure that he didn’t feel bad about his nine months of quietly watching his baby grow in his wife’s stomach! There’s no doubt that in his silence he listened intently to God and joyfully anticipated the Messiah to come through the ministry of his own son. His glorious song of praise after his son was born and his tongue was loosed shows us the fruit of his long period of silence (Luke 1:67-79).
If Zechariah needed nine months of silence to prepare for Christmas you and I might do well with a few hours!
The Real Meaning of Christmas
We have Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, sparkling lights, festive holiday music, a month of shopping days, endless cookies, cakes, and candies, and many other ways to spread Christmas greetings, but in the midst of all this celebrating few people listen to the real meaning of Christmas. Most people settle for proclamations of “Happy Holidays!”
The Lord knows best. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). To hear the true message of Christmas we need to be quiet…
Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Be Still to Prepare for Christmas
Think about it. It’s no accident that the Christmas season is the noisiest, busiest, most materialistic, and most stressful time of year. If Satan can tempt us away from being still and quieting our hearts then he can distract us from listening to what God is saying to us and truly celebrating Christmas.
You’ve probably bought Christmas presents for a number of people. How about giving a present to Jesus for his birthday? He says to us: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Just be still…
Stop the frenetic activity. Turn off the noise. Set aside some time to get alone with the Lord and be quiet. Rest in his presence. Listen to his Word. Tell him what you love about him – “Jesus, I love you because…” What better way could we prepare for Christmas?
As the song says, if we keep a “silent night” with Jesus at Christmastime, persevering through our jitters and frets, then “heavenly peace” awaits us. More importantly, we get to bless the Lord who lets us minister to him.
Soul Shepherding’s Advent Resources will prepare your heart for a fresh appreciation of the coming of Christ. Our booklet is for private devotions and small groups. The prayer cards work great for facilitating conversation at a holiday gathering.