Advent Devotion, Sunday 3 December 2017
Surprise Followed Surprise
by Lynda Lindsey
Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, “His name is to be John.” That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—-Zachariah’s mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God! Luke 1:63-64 The Message
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. …” Luke 1:29-30 The Message
Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother … Luke 2:33 The Message
To be surprised is to be caught unaware, off guard, or blindsided by an unexpected yet significant event. Surprises arrive suddenly, often taking our breath away, leaving us dumbfounded and dazed. Surprises customarily happen as we are attending to the ordinary, familiar routines of our daily existence.
Luke 1:8 states, “It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense.” The congregation was gathered together in prayer outside the Temple, and unannounced, an angel of God suddenly appeared at the altar of incense, paralyzing Zachariah in fear! Zachariah’s unbelief resulted in an inability to speak during Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
Mary, a virgin, was making preparations to be married to Joseph in the Galilean village of Nazareth. There would have been a trousseau and household goods to have been made or purchased, even among the poorest of women. The angel appears and greets Mary, leaving her thoroughly shaken, wondering and fearful! In Luke 1:29-33 the angel offers assurance, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.” Mary’s belief resulted in an instant outpouring of praise to God! Luke 1:39 informs us that Mary didn’t waste a minute traveling to greet Elizabeth.
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to offer Him as a holy offering to God, and to offer sacrifice as prescribed in God’s Law. Routine. Conscientious. Dutiful. Yet the words of Simeon, a good man, full to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, poured out such prophecy regarding the infant that Mary and Joseph were speechless with surprise!
Advent, a time of waiting, watching, anticipating; longing, all the while attending to the ordinary familiar routines of our daily existence. Walk in holy expectancy. Revel in the unexpected, joyous, God-surprises to come!