Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Daily Office Reflection: Zechariah's Awakening

Psalms 66, 67 * 116, 117; Isaiah 11:10-16; Revelation 20:11-21:8; Luke 1:5-23

Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth, the parents of the soon-to-be conceived John (the Baptist), is told today by the angel Gabriel that his wife, in her old age, will conceive and bear a son, and they are to break with tradition and not name him after the father, Zechariah, but are to name him John.  Zechariah doesn't believe the angel and his ability to speak is taken away from him by Gabriel.

The next few scenes in Luke's Gospel do not include Zechariah. We move to Gabriel speaking to Elizabeth, and then Gabriel speaking to Mary, then Mary coming to see her cousin Elizabeth and John leaping in her womb at the sight of a pregnant Mary and the One whom she carries. Then John is born and Zechariah's tongue is loosened and he sings a song of praise and thanksgiving. This is one of the Canticles in our Daily Office, fittingly called The Song of Zechariah. (If you are looking for it, you will find it in the Book of Common Prayer, in the Morning Prayer devotion, Canticle 16. There are also numerous musical versions found in the Hymnal 1982.)

So often in life we experience some momentous event, something that changes us forever and we do not put words to the occasion. Zechariah does this for us, not only with the angel Gabriel, but after nine months of being mute, he has had time to reconsider what has happened and then bursts forth in praise. We shouldn't be bashful about expressing our joy at gifts given to us, at praising God for Blessing us with so many gifts. We shouldn't care about what the neighbor's might think. We have Zechariah's model to follow: where joy is not hidden but expressed fully.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. On this eve of eve day, bring that bottled joy up to be shouted from the rooftops tomorrow or the next day. Let your joy be known, let your thanks be heard. We never know who needs to hear about our joy, who can be lifted from despair because we voiced our thanks, praise and joy. It's not just about us.

Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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