(Zechariah said) "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:78-79a).
Read Luke 1:76-79.
In Charles Dickens' book The Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit looks at his eldest son, nearly grown and about to leave home, and tells his family, "But however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim -- shall we -- or this first parting that there was among us."
The first parting among my family was my father's death. The next Christmas we tried hard to recapture the joy and laughter of former Christmases, but we all felt the empty place his parting had left behind.
In Zechariah's words of praise to God, he briefly turns to speak of his son John and the great work God would accomplish through him as Jesus' great prophet and forerunner. But now he turns back to Jesus' far greater work.
He describes Jesus as the sun that comes to us from heaven. Just as the morning sun rises to scatter the darkness of night, Jesus Christ will arise to shatter the darkness of sin, doubt and death. Jesus comes to those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. They are sitting because they have no power or hope; they have given up the fight. But through His life, death and resurrection, Jesus has scattered the shadow that death casts across us. Raising us to our feet by faith, He sets us moving toward heaven again. He guides our feet along the way of peace that leads to God the Father's presence in heaven-and a joyous eternal reunion with our loved ones-those who have died in faith.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, shine Your light on our darkness, comfort us in our grief, and set our feet once again on the path of peace -- the road to heaven. Amen.
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