We all have hopes and dreams for the children in our lives. Whether it’s starting a college fund the day they’re born or simply praying that they will be healthy and happy, we want what’s best for them. These dreams are surely the most idyllic when children are infants, before they learn the word no. And our hopes can be battered and bruised through the years by all kinds of unforeseen circumstances. When Zechariah proclaims not only his hopes for his son, John, but God’s plan, he gives words to every parent’s deepest hope that their children will make a positive difference in the world. And if Zechariah lived long enough to see John grow to adulthood, he must have wondered often whether this original hope would come to fruition. Few parents envision their children dressed in camel hair and preaching in the desert. And John’s murder at the hands of a narcissistic king must have seemed like the final blow. But John did, in fact, fulfill God’s plan for his life. He led people to recognize the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one. It’s easy to see the people in Scripture as far removed from our lives. Like any good story, we get to read the ending, we see how it all turns out for them. Our stories are mostly still unfinished. We might be struggling right now to see God’s plan unfolding, whether in our own lives or those of our children. But Christmas is the beginning of the ultimate happy ending. Sit with these words from Zechariah’s canticle. If you find yourself in darkness, let them bring you hope. If you’re seeing the sunrise, rejoice and give thanks! “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us…” Bless the children in your life today, whatever their ages, wherever they are. Trust that at the deepest heart of your hopes and dreams for them is God’s own hopes and dreams for their lives, because they’re God’s sons and daughters as well.
— from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent
by Diane M. Houdek