I hope you are enjoying your Advent calendar! We’re reading a few verses from the Bible each day as we count down until Christmas.

This week we continue the story of the birth of John the Baptist. We’ll also hear the story of how Mary learns that she will be the mother of Jesus.

Week Three:

Dec. 11

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (Part 3)

Read: Luke 1:13-17 (NRSVue)

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Ponder: Imagine that you are Zechariah. What are you feeling as you hear the angel’s words? Surprise? Joy? Fear? Confusion?

Dec. 12

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (Part 4)

Read: Luke 1:18-20 (NRSVue)

 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know that this will happen? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

Ponder: What do you think Gabriel was trying to teach Zechariah by taking away his ability to speak?

Dec. 13

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (Part 5)

Read: Luke 1:21-25 (NRSVue)

21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he returned to his home.

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me in this time, when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

Ponder: What do you think it was like when Zechariah got home unable to speak, but with great news to share?

Dec. 14

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (Part 1)

Read: Luke 1:26-33 (NRSVue)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Ponder: What do you suppose Mary might have been doing just before Gabriel showed up?

Dec. 15

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (Part 2)

Read: Luke 1:34-38 (NRSVue)

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Ponder: What do you suppose Mary might have done just after Gabriel left?

Dec. 16

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Read: Luke 1:39-45 (NRSVue)

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Ponder:  Why do you think Mary was so eager to visit Elizabeth?

Dec. 17

Mary’s Song of Praise (Part 1)

Read: Luke 1:46-50 (NRSVue)

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant.
Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name;
50 indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

Ponder: A magnifying glass makes things look bigger and clearer. How do Mary’s words “magnify” the Lord?