(I’m taking part in the Twitter #adventbookclub, reading “Beginnings and Endings” by Maggi Dawn. Some days there will just be a simple thought / tweet, if I can get it into 140 characters; other times a blog post for more coherent thoughts.)
Today’s Bible passage is the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, and three things have struck me in particular.
First, Luke sets his work in a specific historical context: “in the days of King Herod of Judea”; this is not ‘once upon a time’. It is in this time and place that first John the Baptist and then Jesus himself proclaim the Kingdom of God. And neither do we live isolated from our own time and place. We cannot ignore what is going on around us; rather, we have a responsibility to bring God’s perspective on our society.
Second, regarding Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke makes the point that they were “living blamelessly [but] they had no children”. Maggi Dawn reminds us that at that time childlessness was seen as a sign of God’s disfavour, so to say that they were blameless would have been a surprise to some. How often do we make judgements based on external circumstances? “They’re on benefits, so they must be lazy scroungers”; “he’s a Muslim, so he must be a terrorist”; “she looks healthy, so she can’t have a chronic illness”.
Finally, Luke gives his purpose in writing: “so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed”. We sometimes think that the Bible can stand alone: just let someone read it and they’ll become a Christian. Sometimes that may be true; but more often the value of the Bible is in backing up and supporting the things that are taught through personal contact. And there is a deeper sense of “know the truth”: to reflect on God’s word for us today, as we are doing especially in this season of Advent.