Good morning! Our reading for this Thursday, December 13, 2018 is Luke 1:21-25.
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” NIV
Unusual or untypical behavior raises the attention of others. Parents who observe a change in behavior of a child should automatically question what might be happening in their child’s life. The fear if the behavior is negative their child must have had a traumatic experience. Thy will want to intercede to correct the problem to prevent a degrading and potentially destructive situation. It is not just with children we should be come sensitive to changes in mood and behavior but also others in our relational network. Our awareness and compassionate response out of love for them and Jesus will be opportunities for blessing and witness.
Zechariah’s exit from the inner court of the sanctuary was premature and sudden. One could even say it was urgent and fearful. Those who observed this were relatives and close friends who would recognize the fear in Zechariah. The fact he could not speak would only contribute to their conclusion he had encountered an angel. We would not associate a heavenly vision to any change those closest to us might exhibit. Zechariah was a member of a priestly family and was serving in the capacity of his spiritual office. It was natural they would make this connection. We, on the other hand might suspect a heart attack or stroke caused his reaction.
What interests me is whether they thought the vision Zechariah was positive or negative. Did God warn him of some coming disaster or a blessing? If it were a blessing you might expect his reaction to be positive and joyful. But then, who expect to see and angel? Of course Zechariah’s vision revealed the role he and Elizabeth would play in God’s plan and as is suggested at their advanced age while the joy come from knowing God was going to answer the people’s prayers soon the process of their participation is not necessarily without struggle.
God wants to reveal his Son in us and to use us in his plan for saving the world. That’s great and I want to be useful to God. However the specifics of how God might use me can go against what I may want or expect. For you or me to be placed at God’s disposal may lead to struggle and certain challenge for which we must rise to the occasion with more than we think we can muster. Though Zechariah was rendered speechless due to his lack of faith in God’s revelation any of us might become dumb-founded by thoughts of what service might mean for us.
Elizabeth secluded herself for five months. My immediate reaction was to assure her pregnancy would take since she was beyond the normal age for bearing children. I could imagine her thinking and expressing to friends who called upon her how blessed she was even as there was some fear she might lose her child. We do not find that Zechariah expressed any joy over the prospects of becoming a father. I can imagine he was consumed over thoughts over what was his responsibility for preparing his son for the service the angel revealed he would provide. He may have pondered and feared what fate awaited his son. I have worried over the world my children and grandchildren will inherit and must struggle within to live faithfully to God.
It is the fate of parents to be consumed by worry over their children. While Elizabeth celebrated her blessing Zechariah worried over God’s will. Worry only ends when we accept God’s will is for our good and blessing and as God has been with us through thick and thin so God will be there for our children as well. Acceptance of God’s will is the only way to peace. May we know his peace even though we may not always like God’s will for us.