Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Friday, December 9
By Dena Wise
The Morning of Forgiveness
Read: Luke 1:76-77 ESV
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”
This prophecy, spoken of the infant John the Baptist by his father, Zechariah, reminds us that the central purpose of the awaited Messiah was to bring salvation through forgiveness of the sins of his people. As a people, the Israelites had repeatedly broken the Holy Covenants made by Abraham, Moses, and David. Likely, these sins of the people lay heavily on the mind of Zechariah, whom the Bible tells us was a righteous priest. Zechariah may have been unable to fathom how–given its long history of covenant-breaking–the nation of Israel could ever be restored to its God. Imagine his joy when Zechariah realized that his own son—his and Elizabeth’s “miracle” baby—would lay groundwork for the ultimate redemption of his people!
But Zechariah’s prophecy did not end there. He went on to beautifully predict the impact this forgiveness would have, not only on the Jewish nation, but on those of us to come (Verses 78-79):
“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.”
Pastor Tim, in a sermon earlier this year, noted that seeking and receiving forgiveness through Christ can also empower us to forgive others, and in doing so we partner with God in his larger work of redemption across the ages. What a glorious thought that as God’s dawn breaks upon us, we are guided—through our small and individual acts of mercy and forgiveness—into the way of peace!
Father of Grace, may the gift of mercy that we celebrate this season illuminate the darkness of our unforgiving hearts. As we bask in the light of your Christmas dawn, may our capacity to forgive grow boundless and our steps along the path of peace grow steady and sure.