“Come, O Come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel!” It’s a beautiful song, but it has desperate lyric. It’s a cry to God that means “Come and save us.” That was the perfect song for us, because that is how the Christmas story begins.
Christmas begins with people who are lost and hurting and who are crying out to be saved.
We are in the season of “Advent” in the church calendar; and the word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” So the focus of the Christmas season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Savior (which was his First Advent), and it is also the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of the church, the season affirms that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again. Advent is a double focus on both the past and the future.
In fact the very first Christmas was a time when the people were looking to the future. In our scripture today we will peek into a story that tells of a people who are yearning for rescue from the evils of the world. And how the people looked forward with expectation, with anticipation, and with longing.
Advent is the hope, that God, will send a new King who will rule with truth and justice and mercy over His people and His creation. It is that hope of an Anointed One, a Messiah, one who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.
During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah.
Luke begins his story by turning off the lights and bending over into the flashlight “During the rule of King Herod”… is not a happy opening line. – the name ‘Herod’ should send shivers down your spine. Herod is 60 years old when Jesus is born and Herod murdered both of his brother-in-laws and his mother-in-law and his wife. So he is a crazy person, but get this – Herod also ordered that upon his own death – several prominent citizens would be gathered in the Roman Hippodrome and be slaughtered (for no reason other than) so that the day of his death was filled with loud wailing and tears.
Herod was kind of like a mafia don. Sure there was peace in the area, but it was a peace that was built on bloodshed and fear. So this story of Jesus’ birth it begins in dark times, in sad times in times of needing a rescuer a hero….