Beer Advent Day 24: Victory At Sea

victory-at-sea

Brewery:  Ballast Point Brewing

Location:  San Diego, CA

Style:  Imperial Porter  ABV: 10%

Contributed By:  Paul Krakau  (Thanks Paul!)

Ballast Point Brewing began in 1996 in the back room of Home Brew Mart, a store with supplies, ingredients, and conversation that every brewer needed to make better beer at home.  From day one, Ballast Point’s philosophy has always been ‘doing what we love, and making what we love to drink.‘ This statement led to the founders incorporating the two things that they love:  beer and fishing.  Many of the beers are named for fish or fishing terms, and the labels have fish on them as a reminder to always do what you love.

Tonight’s Imperial Porter should be a nice close to Beer Advent 2016.  Coming in at 10% ABV you’ll definitely want to pour the beer into a glass, kick your feet up, and sip slowly to savor the coffee, vanilla, and spices!

For the final time of this year’s Beer Advent……………………………. Cheers!

Advent Reflection:  Luke 2: 15-20
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

No Silent Night
by Debbie Wallis

It was not a silent night
Men were questioning
What this strange starlight meant.
Others, roused in midst of their watch,
No longer questioned.
For their night was split
with the shock of a choir of angels
Shouting, “Glory to God,
The Christ child comes.”

It was not a silent night.
It was a noisy confusing night.
The city was congested,
Tempers were short,
The inns were crowded–all of them.
And Mary and Joseph–
What did their hearts cry
When they saw the lowly birth bed?

It was not a silent night.
His coming tore a woman’s body.
His coming was hard–
Dreadfully hard
for everyone involved.
His coming was not a mythical
anesthetized 20th century dream.
It was hard and cold.
It was heavy.

But it was not silent.
He forever split our darkness
with the proclamation of angels
that the Light of the world was shining.
That for all ages to come
We would know
That heaven is not silent.
For God has spoken.
He has come.

 

NATIVITY
On the night Jesus was born nothing seemed right.  The God of infinite creation was piercing into finite space and time on a spectacular mission to live, love, die and conquer death for His creatures. This divine entrance should have been celebrated as the biggest event of all human history.  The coming Messiah would have been expected to be heralded by kings and religious people of power. The cities should have been draped with regal pageantry. Honor should have been the overwhelming emotion of the world’s inhabitants. The anticipation of the Creator’s arrival should have been at a crescendo.

But that’s not how it happened, did it? The little, dusty village of Bethlehem was not an appropriate venue for a coming King. The streets and inns were crowded with too many outsiders angry that they were being forced by Rome to return to pay taxes.  The night was cold as the wind blew through from the nearby hills. The juiciest piece of gossip at the village well was that there was a young pregnant unmarried Jewish girl looking for a place to say. Her story was a scandal to all who listened.

With no room in the inn and with no family willing to take her in, Mary and Joseph find shelter from the stares and cold in a place reserved for animals. She endured the pangs of birth alone, without help. Then laid her baby in a feeding trough in that smelly dank stable. It couldn’t have been comfortable. The wondrous angelic announcement of nine months ago must have seemed like a false promise. The sadness of not having family around and absence of joy at a birth had to feel desolate.

That’s what it looked like. Nothing seemed right. But there was more, much more than the eye could see. In reality this was not a mistake. This is exactly what God had planned. The Messiah came into this family, in this village, at this time in fulfillment of hundreds of years of prophecy.  This was His big entrance. God orchestrated a host of angelic beings to appear in the sky to shepherds who were deeply and forever moved. When they came to the stable it was a reminder to Mary that they were not forgotten. God was watching.

It was not at all dark. There was light – warm, soft light. There was wonder – in the faces of Mary, Joseph and the shepherds. There was praise – in the voices and hearts of the shepherds who were loudly glorifying God. Then there was peace and confidence – in the heart of Mary. Deep in her heart she knew the truth and magnitude of the moment. She had peace. She had hope.  In a moment when it looked like nothing was right, in reality, all was calm, all was bright.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, this Christmas as we sing the familiar carols, hear the familiar readings and ponder the familiar mysteries, give us the gift of pure worship — that ability which Mary had of attributing to you your true worth, your full value, your inestimable greatness. Teach us to be reverent; yet teach us how to express the love that burns within our hearts as we think of your goodness to us–that you have come to be our light in darkness, our hope in despair, our strength in weakness, our shelter in the storm — yes, and our eternal Saviour.
Amen.

-Taken from “The Advent Project”  Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts

 

Beer Advent Day 23: Jubelale

jubelale

Brewery:  Deschutes Brewery

Location:  Bend, OR

Style:  Winter Ale  ABV:  6.7%

Contributed By:  Shawna Hendrix  (Thanks Shawna!)

I’m not really certain what differentiates a Winter Ale from  a Christmas Ale but nonetheless this festive winter ale should be a nice treat to your cold Friday night on the eve of Christmas weekend!  It has cocoa, dried fruit, and toffee notes with warming spice thrown in their too.   Sit back, relax, and enjoy tonight’s brew!

Advent Reflection:  I have long appreciated the perspective of the portion of Scripture where the heavenly host of angels appear to lowly shepherds!  It tells me that though lowly in societies eyes, they were extremely worthy to be visited by the host of angels!

Luke 2: 8-12
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

KNEELING WITH THE SHEPHERDS
A bunch of men sit around a meager fire.  They are rough men, laborers, near the bottom of the social pyramid.  It is late and they are probably both cold and tired.  They just want to make sure that they survive the night and none of the sheep are lost, stolen, or eaten by a predator.

The soft bleating of sheep and the low voices of the men are the only sounds to be heard in the stillness of the night.  One could imagine one or two dozing as the night grew later, some talking about the cares of life, maybe even one set apart and keeping to himself.  No matter what they were doing, they had no idea of how their life was about to change.

Suddenly there is light and singing and…..ANGELS!!!  The darkness recedes, the good news is announced, and they run like the wind to Bethlehem – to fall before a baby in worship.

I love this story.  It is probably my most favorite of all that happened on that night so long ago.  A bunch of ordinary working men are the first to hear the extraordinary news of a savior and their lives are never the same again.  I love to imagine them racing to Bethlehem.  I see them stopping anyone and everyone in the streets and asking where they can find the baby.  I even imagine the incredulous looks they received and how surprised they must have been when they finally found the child….in a stable.

But most of all I love thinking about how they must have felt as they fell to their knees in worship and adoration.  As they gazed on that baby, did they see hope and love?  Did it change how they lived, worked, loved, and believed when they left and went back to everyday life?

The beauty of the story never grows old.  The fact that the announcement was made to a group of scruffy men in a field.  The reality that they had to take on the challenge of finding the baby after they got over being scared to death because they had just seen not one, but a host of angels.  And when they found him he was lying in a feeding trough attended by a young man and woman who were just as ordinary as they were.

Every year as I read this story I am reminded that I too am just an ordinary person, that God wants me to run and find Him, and that when I do there is light, love, and hope.  The challenge as I fall down and worship the gift of that baby is to then rise up and live a different life.   To understand that God doesn’t call me to stay there and just adore, but to stand up again and allow that experience to change how I work, love, live and believe.  I like to think that is what happened with those shepherds.  I pray that it is also what happens to me – to us who hold the knowledge of the good news of a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

Prayer
Jesus Christ, highest and holiest, you humbled yourself to enter into our lives. Bring us with the shepherds to kneel before your lowly cradle, that we may rise changed people as only you can transform us. May the music of our lives shine with the glorious praises of your angels.
Amen.

Beer Advent Day 21: Sideshow

sideshow-ipa

Brewery:  Door County Brewing Co.

Location:  Bailey’s Harbor, WI

Style:  Belgian style IPA   ABV: 6.3%

Contributed By:  Shelia Otto  (Thanks Sheila!)

Our second featured beer from Door County Brewing this Beer Advent is a Belgian IPA.  This IPA will have fruity notes of melon and oranges due to the Belgian yeast that is added.  This IPA focuses more on flavor and aroma rather than bitterness which so many IPA’s tend to showcase.  As you pour it into your mason jar or pint glass, be sure to smell the lovely Belgian aromas!

Cheers!

Advent Reflection:  Luke 2: 6-7
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 

LEARN FROM THE ANIMALS
Few images of the nativity are complete without this menagerie of barnyard beasts. By the time our crèches are installed each year an ark-like peaceable kingdom has been created. Religion reporter John Allemang writes, “The manger scene evolves from a messy chaotic household with animals underfoot to a kind of petting zoo, and finally to an over-the-top tribute to the wonders of the natural world.”

What a surprise to discover that many biblical scholars suggest there were no animals in the same space where Mary actually gave birth. According to them the couple did not seek lodging at a commercial inn. Instead they most likely stayed in the back portion of Joseph’s ancestral compound since other relatives who’d arrived earlier probably occupied the guest rooms.

Ben Witherington, New Testament professor at Asbury Seminary says,

Archeology has shown that in such homes you had a partition wall between the main front part of the house and the place where you kept your prized animals. But these are Jews of course, so the animals would have been left outside, and the place quickly cleaned for Mary and the baby in view of ritual purity issues. This also explains Luke’s reference to Mary doing the ritual purity procedures after giving birth, due to the possibility of uncleanness being contracted in such a locale.

Origen, an early church father (185-254), got the ball rolling by associating Isaiah 1:3 with the nativity manger, “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib. Therefore, the animals, the ox and the ass, with him in their midst incessantly adored him.” And Saint Francis, the animal-loving monk, is credited with creating the first living nativity in 1223; replete with smelly animals he fondly referred to as his “brothers and sisters.”

Regardless of the presence or absence of animals at Christ’s nativity, the mystery of salvation is that Christ came to redeem all of creation. One wonders if some part of the animal kingdom wasn’t aware of God’s incarnation on the night of his birth?

Over the past quarter century scientific researchers have confirmed that human intelligence isn’t necessarily superior to other animals, it’s merely different. Contrary to commonly held assumptions, Cambridge neuroscientist, Jenny Morton, has discovered that sheep, for example, are quite intelligent animals. “Sheep can perform executive cognitive tasks, are adaptable, can map out their surroundings mentally and may even be able to plan ahead.”

A beautiful verse found in the book of Job (12:7-10) states, “If you want to learn, then go and ask the wild animals and birds, the flowers and the fish. Any of them can tell you what the Lord has done. Every living creature is in the hands of God.” As many can attest, the loyalty, faithfulness, friendship and humility of animals is often more intense and long lasting than some of our human relationships, and a poignant reminder to us all. Again quoting from John Allemang, “Animals mirror human values better than many humans, often seem to know us better than we know ourselves and live beautifully complex lives beyond our control and understanding.”

Prayer
Christ God, source and sustainer of all life, we cherish the myriad works of your hands. Water, earth, and sky are yours as are all their inhabitants, wild and tame. We thank you for creatures that nourish and serve us, befriend, enrich, entertain, and protect us. May we who are made in your image care for them well, and your groaning yet wondrous creation rally and thrive, revealing to all who come after us your wise, redemptive and transforming love.
Amen.

Beer Advent Day 20: Honey Kolsch

honey-kolsch

Brewery:  Rogue Ales & Spirits

Location: Newport, OR

Style: Kolsch  ABV: 5.0%

Contributed By:  Greg Miller  (Thanks Greg!)

Dare-Risk-Dream…This is the statement that is posted on each bottle of Rogue Ale.  Rogue was founded in 1987 by like-minded ‘Rogues’ in the Pacific Northwest.  You may ask:  What is a Rogue?  And to answer your question…read the below description from Rogue Ales.

THE ROGUE WAY

RULE #1

Listen generously.

RULE #2

Speak straight.

RULE #3

Be there for each other.

RULE #4

Honor commitments.

RULE #5

Give acknowledgement/appreciation.

*If that is what it means to be ‘Rogue’ then I hope that each of us participants of Beer Advent 414 will embrace the title of ‘Rogue’.

Cheers to this interesting brew from the Pacific Northwest!

Advent ReflectionLuke 2:1-5
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,who was with child.

JOURNEY OF RETURNING
Joseph and Mary were obedient to Rome in traveling 90 miles to  return to Bethlehem, the city of David, as prophesied in Micah, to register for the census.  As you watch and listen to the video, I invite you to imagine their journey.  The terrain was not easy and the winter was cold, possibly 30 degrees during the day and wet, rainy, uncomfortable and freezing as they tried to find shelter at night.  Can you imagine traveling 90 miles on foot?  And on top of that, Mary was very pregnant, carrying our Savior, the baby Jesus.  With Joseph by her side, she probably rode on a donkey for more than a week.  It had to have been challenging for her, balancing on the donkey with birth pains, not knowing when she might go into labor.  I wonder what worries filled Joseph’s mind, would they find shelter that night, or what if she goes into labor while on the side of the road, or would they run into wild animals in the forested areas of the Jordan River?  Their journey of returning, was filled with hardships and dangers as they persevered.

Our journeys, can also have invitations to “return,” possibly to our places of origin, our family homes and traditions, or “kinds” of adoptions for those of us that have many unknowns in our lives.  It seems so easy to breeze through this passage in the birth of Christ narrative and miss the actual journey… I find myself struck by Joseph and Mary’s journey to return to the place from which they came–with its culture, heritage and family history.  It is significant that they returned to Bethlehem, the city of David. It reminds me that where we come from matters. God has placed me on a journey, one of more fully understanding my Japanese-American history and the pilgrimage my loyal, hard-working, and strong-enduring family members lived followed WWII.  Knowing their stories of perseverance, silent-long-suffering, sacrifice, love and resiliency has influenced and formed parts of who I am today.

Our stories matter.  Our history matters. They are the beautiful, joyous and painful pieces of who we are and where we come from.  As we return to these stories, we may come to understand more fully, what has been passed down and inherited: wisdom, traditions, work ethic, what makes us comfortable or not, generational sin, oppression and journeys of freedom.  As we come to understand how these things have formed and impacted us and how we interact with one another, we can see how we are influenced by our his-tory.  Essentially, God’s Story, lived out in us… His-story, is what he has done and is doing in our lives. During this time of year, I invite you to remember or discover more of your history and how that has equipped you for His calling.  Who we are and where we come from is a part of what makes us uniquely, beautifully and wonderfully made in His image.

-Taken from ‘The Advent Project’ Center for Christianity, Culture, & Art (Biola Univ.)

Beer Advent Day 19: Apex Predator

apex-predator

Brewery:  Off Color Brewing

Location:  Chicago, IL

Style:  Farmhouse Ale  ABV: 6.5%

Contributed By: Kyle Faulkner  (Thanks Kyle!)

Off Color Brewing seems like a good group of people.  They have great art for their beers as well.  Check out the pictures!  And below is a list of FAQ for Off Color Brewing.  I thought their answers were pretty insightful as to the type of people they are.  Cheers!

FAQ

How many different type of bourbon are on John’s desk?
11

Whats your favorite beer?

I don’t like this question.

What’s that thing called?

It’s a science tube

Why did you do [insert thing here]?

We were probably drunk

Are you going to apologize?

No. Well, yes.

 

Why a grain mouse?

It’s the only mammal that’s at the brewery more than us

So you like mice?

Hell no. They try and eat our grain

Why do you use the metric system?

Because it makes sense dammit

What is the metric system?

Public school!!

What are the hours of your taproom?

We don’t have a taproom, so, uh….

 

Advent Reflection:    Matthew 1: 20-25
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us).  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

MUSINGS ON JOSEPH
Sometimes I wish scripture wasn’t quite so concise. I’m told I’m a concise person; I do appreciate brevity. But sometimes, I just want a little more from God’s Word. I read Matthew 1:20-25, one of the very few passages on Joseph – the man who was responsible for ensuring the Savior of the world would first, be born, and second, survive Herod’s slaughter of innocents – and I wish I knew more about him. I wish I could wrap my mind around his experience. We know the facts: he was a carpenter. He was a descendant of David. He was from Nazareth. We get a sense of his character: he must have been a kind and humble man – after all, marrying the pregnant Mary would have been quite scandalous, and we’re told he determined to divorce her quietly.

But what was it really like for Joseph to learn that his betrothed was with child, and then to be told by God in a dream to take on the fatherhood of this fatherless baby, that this unborn one would “save the people from their sins”? The black-and-white words on the pages of scripture aren’t quite enough to satisfy my curious ponderings.

It is in these moments that I am grateful that God made creative people, who provide what’s needed to move my imagination into the space of questions, anxiety, fear, chaos, and awe that Joseph may have experienced at these strange and mind-bending events.

Before we go on.. Read Matthew 1:20-25 once more. Close your eyes, and imagine Joseph. See his face, hear the angel’s voice, watch him wake from that dream…

It’s no wonder the angel told Joseph, “Fear not.”

And in an act that demonstrates the depth of Joseph’s rock-solid character: he “woke from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

Just like that.

Hmm. Maybe, just maybe there is a gift in the very brevity of Joseph’s story. He hears a Word from the Lord, and he obeys. Just like that.

Oh, for such faith.

-Taken from “Advent Project” Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts

Beer Advent Day 18: Moon Man

moon-man

Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Co.

Location:  New Glarus, WI

Style:  Pale Ale  ABV: 5.0%

Contributed By:  David Baylor (Thanks David!  and also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!)

Our second feature of a beer from New Glarus Brewing Co. is one that doesn’t try to add more than it needs to in order to be flashy.  It simply is real, and as the bottle tells us “In Wisconsin, you don’t have to be extreme to be real”!

Moon Man is pretty solid through and through when it comes to pale ales.  It has a nice malt backbone and not too over the top with the hops.  New Glarus just started canning Moon Man earlier this year which makes a ‘must have’ for tailgates, parties, just about any occasion.

Cheers!

 

Advent Reflection:  Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent.  Here is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.  “Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now are for ever.  Amen”

The Glorious Mystery of Christmas

Christmas Day is often referred to as the Feast of the Incarnation. It commemorates the most consequential event in human history, the celebration of “God with us!” One would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful story in the whole of global literature. Yet the strange sequence of events that culminate in Christ’s birth leave us dumbfounded: a virgin mother; angelic appearances; the King of Glory born amidst animals in a barn; a miraculous star that guides the Magi to the Christ child. The glorious mystery of Christmas is that the birth of Christ unites humanity and divinity, turning the world as we understand it upside down. Author Beth Bevis states, “The early church theologians stressed that the Incarnation should not be seen as condescension, as the “descent” of God to man, but as the lifting up of humanity into the divine life.”

Unusual Circumstances
Matthew 1: 18-19

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

FACING CRISIS
The young woman appears to be fretting over something. Mary, contemplating how her future husband will receive her—a young pregnant woman with someone else’s child? How to convince Joseph of the truth of her child’s parentage? What will happen to her if he doesn’t believe her? Even with God’s child inside her, she remains a vulnerable young woman with few rights and little power.

We do not know whether Mary tried to convince Joseph of the truth or, upon realizing he’d never believe her, kept quiet. Perhaps After the Announcement depicts Mary contemplating her plight after revealing her pregnancy to Joseph and enduring their first argument (two empty seats with a broken plant between them). The ropes hang ominously in the background, signaling desperation.

What we do know is that Joseph, upon finding out that Mary is with child, first relies on his own judgment. He decides to divorce Mary quietly so not to shame her. Later, after an angel of the Lord tells him to take Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Joseph obeys (Matthew 1: 20-24).

When I face a crisis, asking God for guidance is not my first instinct. Rather than going to the Lord, I review all possible scenarios, planning out my strategy like a war room. I never know whether my best-laid plans will work—but God allows us the freedom to make those decisions. Despite not being the best solution, Joseph’s plan revealed his mercy and compassion. What do our plans reveal about us?

Rather than feeling shame and guilt for not going to God first, I can rest assured that my decisions—however imperfect—can reflect God’s work in me. More importantly, God is ultimately in control, often accomplishing things beyond our comprehension.

-Taken from the Advent Project by Center for Christianity, Culture & the Arts

Beer Advent Day 17: Uff-da

uffdabock

Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Co.

Location:  New Glarus, WI

Style:  Bock  ABV:  6.7%

Contributed By:  Annie Teigen  (Thanks Annie!)

Just read the side of the bottle tonight and you will get a very detailed description of the Uff-da Bock.

I will add though, that if you haven’t been to the Brewery in New Glarus you should definitely go sometime.  It truly is a castle on the hill!  It is a self guided tour so not as ‘fun’ as the Lakefront tour but the beer cellar where you can purchase all of their selection is well worth it.  The unique fact about New Glarus Brewing Co. is that you can only get their beer in the great state of Wisconsin……Only In Wisconsin!

Cheers!

Advent Reflection:

Luke 1: 67-80

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 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, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

 

IN HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth struggle to have a child; and then in their old age, an angel of the Lord visits Zechariah and tells him they will indeed have a son. Because Zechariah questions this declaration from the Lord, the angel tells Zechariah that he will not be able to speak for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (it seems as though Elizabeth receives a double blessing here – a child and a husband that can’t speak). When the time comes for Elizabeth to give birth to their son, Zechariah’s voice returns and the first thing he utters is a song of blessing to God.

In this song, known as the Benedictus (“blessed be the Lord God of Israel”), Zechariah praises God and declares that he is powerful and faithful in fulfilling his promises. Through the lens of God’s faithfulness, Zechariah contemplates the events that are transpiring concerning the birth of his son, John, and the anticipated birth of John’s cousin, Jesus. The births of these two babies are part of the grand story of a God who keeps promises and acts on behalf of his people.

This first part of the song is thanksgiving for the realization that Jesus, the Messiah, is coming, the long awaited Messiah, hoped for by generations upon generations. This not only brought hope to the people of Israel, but a renewed strength to carry on. When Zechariah mentions the horn of salvation (verse 69), the people of Israel would have thought of the mighty power of deliverance which would now be at hand.

This deliverance is pointed to by Zechariah as the fulfillment of God’s oath to Abraham; not for personal gain of things on this earth, but that (74b-75) “we may serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.”

But what is the goal of this deliverance/salvation? Here is perhaps the most insightful part of the song. Zechariah is not retreating from life or looking only to a future reward in heaven. His heart’s desire is to serve God with everything that is within him. The Amplified Bible puts it this way, “To grant us that we might serve him fearlessly in holiness (divine consecration) and righteousness [in accordance with the everlasting principles of right] within his presence all the days of our lives.” The meaning of life comes in faithful service to a holy God. By saying “our days,” Zechariah represents many who strive to serve God wholeheartedly.

The second part of Zechariah’s song is addressed to his own precious son. John was to participate in such an important way in the redemption of God’s people. He would be a prophet, preparing people, and preaching the forgiveness of sins brought to fruition by the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus, the light of the world, has come to dispel the darkness (verse 79). God has visited us in the form of a man. And it is he whom we must be dependent upon for our salvation. Even the righteous Zechariah recognized the need to be totally dependent on the one God would send. This Advent and Christmas season, let us renew our commitment to “serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.”

-taken from “Advent Project” by Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts, Biola

Prayer
We thank you, God, for the wilderness. As we wait for the land of promise, teach us your holiness and righteousness. Lead us to the place where we hear your word most clearly, renew us and clear out the wastelands of our lives, prepare us for life in the awareness of Christ’s coming when the desert will sing and the wilderness will blossom as the rose.
Amen.

 

Beer Advent Day 16: Golden Monkey

goldenmonkey-12ozbottle

Brewery:  Victory Brewing Company

Location:  Downingtown, PA

Style:  Belgian Tripel  ABV: 9.5%

Contributed By:  Chris Bowers (Thanks Chris!)

Victory Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by two childhood friends who met on a school bus in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.  As the two friends grew in age and subsequently their love for craft beer, they began a friendly challenge of seeing who could make the best home brew.  After training in Germany to learn the art of brewing according to European traditions, the two got back together and started their brewery in the same town that they met as kids, Downingtown, PA

Victory’s slogan is:  “European Tradition….American Ingenuity”. Enjoy this Belgian Tripel tonight as you welcome our second snowstorm of the winter!

Cheers!

Advent Reflection: Think about the child that is coming to us this Advent season.  The prophet Isaiah captures the magnificence of this child so beautifully. 

Isaiah 9:6-7  “6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.