When an angel appears to Zechariah in the temple, he tells him that his wife will give birth to a son, and the old man doesn’t believe the angel. Understandable right? If an angel appears to Pete and tells him that I am going to give birth to a son in our advanced age - heads are gonna roll! Zechariah’s response was not unreasonable. Because of his unbelief, Zechariah was given a timeout and was unable to speak until his boy was born. I suspect he thought that was the least of his problems.

During Zechariah’s encounter, and once he regains his voice, he expresses his renewed viewpoint, including a description of the times, saying that God’s people are “lost in darkness”. That’s not all he sees and says, he also says this, “God’s sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness.” Further he says that God will “Show us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.” If you want to read more, check out Luke 1.

Part of the ritual of Advent that I have loved as an adult is the lighting of a candle each Sunday of the Advent season. The first week the lighting of the purple candle focuses on taking our hope seriously. I love that. Hoping is not always happy. Sometimes it is a determined small but next right step of obedience.

Zechariah messed up AND still ended up with a son who would play a pivotal role in the ministry of Jesus. Have you or yours messed up so much that it feels impossible to enjoy Christmas this year? Fine. You do not have to. What you could do, if you were willing to believe, is look for ways to help others have a better holiday season. Who can you bless? Gift? Appreciate? Serve?