If Costco was our guide, the time of preparing for Christmas would start in late October. But, as the Church, we begin preparing for Christmas with a season called Advent. It’s the hopeful expectation of the emergence of Emmanuel. As Christians, this season celebrates that Jesus did indeed come in the flesh and we also, just like Israel awaiting the Messiah’s first coming, eagerly await the long expected moment of Jesus’ triumphant second coming. It’s a season of hope in the midst of longing: bright lights in the darkness, warm conversations away from the cold, and gathering with loved ones even though some are unable to join us.
One of the clearest signs that Christmas is coming is not the decor of holly and ivy, but the encores of Oh Holy Night and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. We know that carols are one of the primary ways we prepare for and celebrate the coming of our Lord and Saviour. What we may not have noticed before, though, is how the gospels contain Christmas Carols written and sung for the very same reasons: preparation and celebration. Over the next few weeks, we will preach from the first Christmas carols written by Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon as we prepare for, and celebrate, the coming of the newborn King.
When you read Zechariah’s story in Luke 1, why do you think God made him mute? What did he do wrong?
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like God has been trying to teach you an important lesson? What was the lesson? How did you learn it in the end? Are you thankful now that he taught it to you? Why or why not?
Why do you think Mary and Zechariah are compared in Luke 1? What is Luke trying to highlight in each of them through the comparison?
What would it have cost Mary to have welcomed the plan of God for her life described by the angel in Luke 1:35-37? What reasons would she have had to reject or despise God’s plan for her life?
Describe a situation where your plan for your life went sideways and you were thrust into trusting God’s plans instead. How did you feel about it? What questions did you ask about God in that situation? Looking back on that situation, do you have a different perspective now than you did at the time it was happening to you?