Day 12: Thursday (Christmas Eve)

Thursday, Day 12 (Christmas Eve)

 

Respond (Act)

What does this mean for me? For the life of the World? For my role in the world?  As you meditate on Zachariah’s Benedictus today (Luke 1:68-79), consider what kind of transformation Jesus is highlighting for you. Reflect back on your journal notes and on the word or phrase which stood out to you in this song. Consider the relationship between that word or phrase and transformation.
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In today’s reflection, following the progression of the four “movements” in the Lectio Divina method of spiritual reading, or reading with God (Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest), we will consider not only the movement within our own hearts, and what Zachariah’s songs means for us, but we will explore what it means for the life of the world and our role in the world. Lectio is a way of listening to the texts of Scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ and He was suggesting the topics of conversation. Yesterday, our response took the form of prayer for guidance. As you study today, consider what it is that Christ may be leading you to do and how you will Respond to his leading.

 

For the past few days we have been noting that Zachariah’s Benedictus serves as an exposition of themes that Luke continues to develop in his narrative. We have explored the themes of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is the context for what follows; the act of benediction (blessing), for which Zachariah’s canticle is named; and the forgiveness of sins. Today, we will ask to what end we will put this salvation from our sins, the burden of self-focus which alienates us from God and from each other.

 

We will ask ourselves what is the goal of this salvation, this rescue? Here is perhaps the most insightful part of the hymn. Zechariah is not retreating from life or looking only to a future reward in heaven. His heart’s desire is to serve [God] without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. He wishes to live in the present, be saved for the present. This is the expression of a soul turned to God, a soul who wishes to have Life Abundant because of his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. And this life abundant provides us with the purpose and meaning we seek: the meaning and purpose of Life comes in service to a holy God. By saying our days, 
Zechariah represents each of us who share this desire to live a restored life turned towards God in service. Salvation enables those who accept it and allow it to transform every aspect of their lives.

 

Moved by God’s Spirit, Zechariah tells us what this Messiah brings to those who trust and follow Him. There will be transformation in several aspects:  spiritual transformation, v. 74: “to serve Him.” There will be emotional transformation, v. 74: “to serve Him without fear.” And there will be behavioral transformation
, v. 75: “In holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.” So many people live lives of quiet desperation. They eek out an existence on a treadmill of futility, wondering what difference it all makes. But an old priest sees the end to all that in God’s Deliverer, whom we know as Jesus Christ.
Alexander Schlemann, in his wonderful book “For the Life of the World,” writes this about the transformation Christ brings to our lives:
“We know now that the event of Christ must transform everything to do with our lives. It was only because of Christ that we had the heart to glory in the creation…, only because He gave us the eyes to “behold God’s gracious hand in all his works.” Now in the time in which we can thank God for Christ, we begin to understand that everything is transformed in Christ into its true wonder. In the radiance of His light the world is not commonplace. The very floor we stand on is a miracle of atoms whizzing about in space. The darkness of sin is clarified, and its burden shouldered. Death is robbed of its finality, trampled down by Christ’s death. In a world where everything that seems to be present is immediately past, everything in Christ is able to participate.”

  • What is the “true wonder” of which Schlemann writes? Consider how Christ’s radiance itself is transforming.
  • Consider the three aspects of transformation highlighted in Zachariah’s song. What is Jesus showing you about the three aspects of transformation in your own life. Note your responses in your journal.
    • What aspect of spiritual transformation comes to mind? How might this be reflected in a life of service?
    • What aspect of emotional transformation comes to mind? How might this be reflected in freedom from fear? From what fears do you need to be rescued in order to serve God freely?
    • What aspect of behavioral transformation comes to mind? How might this be reflected in living in “holiness and righteousness.”
  • God seeks to transform every aspect of our life, to save us in full. In what ways is God suggesting that your life today, in the present, be transformed by this immediate gift? Think about the word of phrase that stood out to you in the passage. How is this related to your transformation?
  • Reflect again on the three aspects of transformation. For each, how does it change how you will live and what you will choose to do for the life of the world?