Child of Blessing, Child of Promise

“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 by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:76-79

I’ll admit that when I read that passage too quickly, I just assume it’s about Jesus. It’s about a baby, right? One who will make great things happen? One who will proclaim God’s mercy, and help us find peace?

Only it’s not about Jesus. It’s about his cousin John the Baptist, and about what he will do in the world. His father Zechariah, in the first days after John’s birth, said all of these things about what his life would be like.

What would it be like if parents proclaimed their children’s futures this way? Not in terms of whether or not they’d make the Ivy League or get the corner office, but by blessing them on their journey as children of God?

What if we saw our children’s births not as the start of an 18-year competitive marathon winding up at college admissions offices, but as the first of many steps on a path of following Jesus, and proclaiming Christ’s love for the world?

On the day when Zechariah blessed him, all that mattered about John was that his father knew he was a child of promise, and that his father rejoiced that God would choose his son for what came next.

I think God still chooses children for this work. But it’s up to the adults in their lives to lift them up, and bless them on their path. And Advent is as good a time as any to start.


God, help us to see the children of promise in our very midst. And help us to lift them up, and listen to their wisdom. Amen.

dd-emilyheath.jpgAbout the Author
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity.