Good morning all! We are in the Christmas week homestretch!
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
When my brothers and I were kiddos, we used to put on shows. I am sure many of your kids did that or you might have done that growing up. We would rehearse to whatever music we had decided for that day (I remember Michael Jackson being fairly popular) or whatever script we had imagined up and then we would invite our parents in. Now, the most important part of this whole production would be the setting of the scene. You had to let them know exactly what was going on. It helped with the moment of anticipation. In order for the story to really carry, we had to make sure all was perfect. In my mind, we were doing everything right if the boys just made sure to do their part. I am pretty sure that we put on some great entertainment in our living room.
Later on, when I was in shows in high school and college, I remember the moment before everything begins is one of the most exciting and most terrifying moments. Hopefully all is in place. Hopefully people have what is needed, they have looked at their program to pick up some clues to the show, and are ready to be engaged. The moment before the curtain opens is pretty electrifying if you are about to walk on stage. It is also the moment for the audience that can be pretty magical. As the audience member, you hope that the stage will be set, that you will be drawn in and that you will have an experience that you can remember later on. By just walking into the theater you are prepared to have an experience.
We are on Monday of Christmas week and it feels a bit like this to me. This morning I woke up with great anticipation. It is the moment before the show really begins and all are anticipating this week. Kids are out of school for the week, family members are starting to arrive and I feel as though many are just waiting to see how the week will go. The gospel of Luke does this very thing in the very first verses of the story. The stage is being set by our writer. Obviously others have given an account but now it’s the writer of Luke’s turn to give it a whirl. He sets the stage with much anticipation for the greatest story he has written. But the stage must be set just so. He must give credibility to his account, and some background information to really make sure that we are ready for the curtain to open and for our characters to step out in this most engaging tale.
Frederick Buechner (usually I quote him much sooner :)) calls Advent such an event. He says this, “The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”
— Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark, pp. 2,3″
That is the moment of Advent. That is what Luke is bringing to us this morning..anticipation mixed with a bit of fear and much excitement for what is to come. Hopefully you can take a moment to relish it today.
Prayer: God, we are excited, anxious, and curious of what you will do this week. Open our curiosity and wonder to new ways of following you. Make us aware of your presence as the curtain goes up. Amen.