Faith is the first ingredient to a Christmas season that is authentically Festive. But even the faithFULL run into conflicts and aggravations that can spoil the most divine festivity.
Take the two elderly, saintly souls who both traced their heritage back to the lines of Israel's priests. Zechariah and Elizabeth "were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord," (Luke 1:6). And then the privilege of a lifetime came, as Zechariah was "chosen" to go serve in the temple, while a crowd was in prayer outside.
While inside, you may remember Gabriel visited Zechariah to bring him awesome news that God was going to finally give them a child; he would be a son named John, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Let's be honest, that's a LOT to take in! But Zechariah just plain didn't believe it, and in verse 20 the Angel told him that he would be silent, unable to speak, until the baby was born.
I love verse 23: "And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home." I bet he did! :) Imagine what old Elizabeth did when her priestly hubby got home and couldn't say a word. How did they communicate? At first it might've been bearable, but it had to eventually DRIVE HER CRAZY!. I wonder if she felt annoyed? Bitter? Questioned the faith of a man who didn't believe?
Her response is not described, but we see the evidence of it in verse 24: "After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived ... " Obviously, she FORGAVE him, and God blessed them with a child as the two came together in understanding and acceptance. She didn't hold his unbelief between them. She forgave.
The rest of the story about these two is beautiful, as their young relative Mary comes to them for support, as their child is born, as Zechariah finally speaks in praise, and as their son grows to prepare the way for his relative Jesus. Forgiveness prepared the way for divine festivity to take over and reign.
Some people try to manufacture "good tidings" with other people at Christmastime. They may use alcohol, crazy costumes, extravagant gifts, a smile, bright outfits, or even church attendance to make it look like "it's all good." But when walls exist between people, only forgiveness prepares the way for a festive heart.
Are you a pregnant elder saint from a priestly family? Me neither. :) But do you have anything against someone else hanging heavily on your heart? Follow Elizabeth's example and let it go, so you can enjoy the blessing of God's gifts.