Like Son, Like Father
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
– Luke 1:68–75 ESV
His name was Zechariah, and he was speechless. Literally. He hadn’t spoken since getting the message that his wife was going to have a baby — a special boy with a name and mission given by God. The message came not from Zechariah’s dear Elizabeth, but from a higher authority. Now, old as Zechariah was — old as Elizabeth was — he had to be absolutely 100% sure. So, he asked, “How will I know this is really going to happen?”
You’ve heard the saying, “Well, shut my mouth!” That’s exactly what happened.
Old Zechariah was struck mute. His lips were sealed. It was obvious to everyone around: Zechariah had heard something amazing, powerful, holy.
Miracle of miracles, Elizabeth became pregnant. All these things he’d been told, by God’s most holy angel Gabriel himself, and Zechariah couldn’t even tell his dear old bride! They could only watch, wait and trust.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s young relative had heard from the same angel. She’d have a baby, too. A boy who’d have his own special name and mission. Young pregnant Mary paid a surprise visit to old pregnant Elizabeth. Before Mary could say anything more than “Hello!” Elizabeth’s baby boy, John, just started jumping around and giving his mama a good kick from the inside! Right then and there, little John the Baptist knew Jesus was with him, even before those two boys were born.
John’s mama was flabbergasted.
“And how is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me, of all people? Soon as I heard your voice, Mary, my baby just jumped for joy! My baby knows who your baby is.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back home to be with Joseph, who had gotten a message of his own, just like old Zechariah had.
By and by, speechless Zechariah and Elizabeth became Abba and Eema, Papa and Mama. Time came to circumcise their boy, to give him a name. Papas named the babies, but Zechariah wasn’t talking. Somehow, Elizabeth knew and said, “Name him John.” The relatives got into an uproar, since firstborn boys were always named after their fathers. They turned to Zechariah, and using makeshift sign language, they asked what Papa thought.
“His name is John,” Zechariah wrote on a tablet, and immediately he started singing his heart out. Zechariah’s song is our Gospel reading today. The father gave voice to what his own baby boy, John the Baptist, had known in the womb. Like son, like father.
Today, more than two millennia later, the Church still sings this text (Luke 1:68-79) during Morning Prayer, preceded by the words: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.” So, let us sing today.
Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see your Son, that life-giving child who sacrificed Himself so that we might have His light and the gift of life everlasting. May His light shine in our hearts today and every day this Advent. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Action for Life: How might the Lord give you the words to speak for life? Pray for the upcoming March for Life, for the protection of unborn life and ask your congregation to do the same in the weekly Prayers of the Church.
Today’s devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, STS. Rev. Dr. Braasch is pastor of Grace Ev. Lutheran Church, Jackson Center, OH and a member of the NALC Life Ministries Team.
This year’s Advent devotions are written by the members of NALC Life Ministries. The devotional follows the daily Revised Common Lectionary for Advent and includes a Bible reading, commentary, prayer and pro-life action for every day until Christmas Eve.
As we move through the season of Advent, Scripture reveals the anxiety of an unplanned pregnancy, as Mary and Joseph ponder this miracle and seek to understand who this precious child might be. This devotional examines our responsibility to protect all human life in light of Mary and Joseph’s protection of Jesus, the savior of the world.
Our authors include Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Rev. Mark Chavez, Rev. Dr. Dennis Di Mauro, Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, Rev. Scott Licht, Rev. Sandra Towberman, Rev. Steve Shipman, Ms. Rebecka Andrae, Rev. Melinda Jones, Rev. David Nelson, Ms. Rosemary Johnson, Rev. Mark Werner and Rev. Steve Bliss.
Joshua 19:32–51 (ESV)
The Inheritance for Naphtali
32 The sixth lot came out for the people of Naphtali, for the people of Naphtali, according to their clans. 33 And their boundary ran from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim, and Adami-nekeb, and Jabneel, as far as Lakkum, and it ended at the Jordan. 34 Then the boundary turns westward to Aznoth-tabor and goes from there to Hukkok, touching Zebulun at the south and Asher on the west and Judah on the east at the Jordan. 35 The fortified cities are Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En-hazor, 38 Yiron, Migdal-el, Horem, Beth-anath, and Beth-shemesh—nineteen cities with their villages. 39 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Naphtali according to their clans—the cities with their villages.
The Inheritance for Dan
40 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans. 41 And the territory of its inheritance included Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, 46 and Me-jarkon and Rakkon with the territory over against Joppa. 47 When the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them, the people of Dan went up and fought against Leshem, and after capturing it and striking it with the sword they took possession of it and settled in it, calling Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor. 48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans—these cities with their villages.
The Inheritance for Joshua
49 When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. 50 By command of the Lord they gave him the city that he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it.
51 These are the inheritances that Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.
Psalm 128 (ESV)
Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord
128 A Song of Ascents.
1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
Acts 6:1–7 (ESV)
Seven Chosen to Serve
6 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.