Day 13: Saturday

Saturday: Recap

Recap what Christ is saying to me through this passage? How might I follow this lead in my life going forward?

 

As you review this week’s study of Zachariah’s Benedictus, read back through your Advent journal and consider what God is showing you through your time with him.

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As we have learned this week, Zachariah is linking his song of praise to very specific covenants given in the Old Testament. He is arguing that all three covenants are fulfilled in the birth of Jesus: a covenant to David, a covenant to Abraham, and a covenant about the forgiveness of sins, known as the New Covenant, presented in Jeremiah 31.

 

All three of those covenants are what we would call “salvific” or salvation covenants, saving covenants.  That is, they have to do with blessings that come by salvation. So this is a very critical text.  For Luke it’s essential because the story that he begins is the story of salvation. Luke wants to be certain he is not misunderstood as presenting something altogether new.  Rather, he is presenting something that fulfills something very old.  Luke wants us to understand that the coming of the forerunner, John the Baptist, and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, inaugurates the fulfillment of God’s promised redemption: the fulfillment of Davidic Covenant, Abrahamic Covenant and New Covenant features.

 

And yet, through this, Zechariah sings. Full of wild hope, he sings. Knowing the state of the world, he sings. And he closes his canticle with these words:

 

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness 
and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

These lines are bound together with sunrise. Each of us and all of us around the world who sing these words at the outset of the day at morning prayer sing them not in response to the coming of dawn but rather to help ensure it.  Surely, the physical rising of the sun does not depend on us. But there is a kind of light that depends on our waiting for it, watching for it, singing it into this world. And when we can’t, God bids us trust that there are others watching and waiting and singing on our behalf and on behalf of the world.

 

And at Christmastime, as those of us in the northern hemisphere journey through the darkest part of the year, we draw on these words and pray for tender mercy. Like Zechariah, we pray for the state of our world, we pray in the place where wild hope is born. Listen quietly to the of Zachariah, praying, just as we pray his words at dawn. Pray for dawn. Pray the dawn. In darkness, sing. In the shadow of death, we sing  Blessing and we are Blessed. Amid the shadows, lift your voice in blessing and peace.

 

 

Considering these two aspects, the fulfillment of the covenants of old and the song of waiting for light, note the following in your journal.

 

  • What light has come from watching and waiting this week as you have read and prayed the Benedictus?
  • How has this great saving light helped you to sing in the darkness, and know your are blessed?
  • What has this light highlighted about your own life transformed with Christ? What is your wild hope?
  • How does this change how you will live and what you will choose to do?
  • How might you sing this light and blessing on behalf of the world?

 

Prayer:

Pray these last four lines of the Benedictus, asking God to make them your own morning prayer for light in the darkness, guiding your steps in the way of peace. Thank God for his blessing of salvation and light, and ask him to show you how to sing your praise and thanksgiving for the life of the world.