Wednesday, December 7, 2011


First Person Narrative on Zechariahs

Was given at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Armour, (My parish) for the Ladies Advent Tea on Sunday December 4, 2011

It was a most unusual event. It was my turn to serve the God of my father’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in His temple. It is a great privilege given to the priests of God to burn incense in the Holy Tabernacle. I had gone to Jerusalem and the temple because it was my turn. While the people were outside waiting and I was offering my prayers and incense a wonder of wonders occurred. I scarcely could believe what my eyes were seeing. There before me stood this angelic being that frightened me to death. But the angel told me not to be afraid and told me that the Lord of my father’s had heard my wife’s Elizabeth and my Zechariahs’ prayers. “I am to call him John. And I will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” He was saying: God will grant to us the privilege of having a son. (Smile here).

My ears could hardly comprehend what the angel was saying and I doubted his words. You see, many years have come and gone, and now I am a very old man; and Elizabeth, well she was beyond child bearing years. The long years of waiting for the prayers to be answered have taken a toll on my weakened heart and all hope that a child would be given us… has long diminished and disappeared. But here was the angel, telling me that my God has heard our prayers and He will do what we asked. Can it be? Can I Zechariah old and weakened man and Elizabeth, the love of my life; whose womb has been silenced and dried up for years bear me a son? I doubted the angel’s words and for that I was struck dumb and couldn’t speak. (Will tell you more about that later).

I should not have doubted Gabriel’s words. For the Lord I Zechariah should have known better. Did you know that my name means “The Lord remembers?” and with the angel’s Words I was awakened from my slumber to see the hand of God bringing joy to us in our old age. {Move here to a different locations}.

When I came out of the temple, the people knew something had happened. A revelation had taken place but I couldn’t speak. My tongue was tied and I couldn’t tell them the good news God revealed to me.

After my term of serving as the Priest in the Holy Temple, I returned to my home in Judea and in time as the manner of men and women (I hate to admit it at my old age) Elizabeth was found with child. She told me with the biggest smile saying, Zechariah, “You are going to be an ABBA—you are going to have a son!” I was so happy and excited, but I couldn’t tell her of my joy, because the Lord withheld my tongue for unbelief.

But poor Elizabeth, for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people”. Oh, don’t misunderstand me. She was soo happy, yet it was an awkward moment. How would you feel if you are already old and you begin to show that you are with child? But I kept comforting her and assuring her that the Lord in mercy has remembered us.

As the baby began to grow in her womb, I would put my hand on her belly and would feel a movement. As I felt the belly of Elizabeth, a kick. We smiled. A kick. We smiled again. Then we wondered if this was how Sarah and Abraham felt with their miracle child.Then we both looked at each other and would smile that the Lord had remembered us. PAUSE {Stare in the distance}

I should like to tell you of a visitor that came to our house one summer day. Elizabeth had begun to show and while she was milking the goat, she looked up and there was a relative—Mary from a far away village—Nazareth. As Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth, at her greetings the baby leaped in her womb. And my wife was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” PAUSE.

Mary stayed with us for 3 months and then went home. Soon after Mary left, Elizabeth gave birth to a son. All the neighbors and family celebrated the birth of my son. They were so excited and so were we. And on the 8th day, as it was the custom for us according to God’s Word we took him to the temple to circumcise him. All of the relatives wanted to call him after me. But Elizabeth wouldn’t hear of it. Then they came to me and asked me “What should my son’s name be? Since I couldn’t speak I asked for a writing tablet. Then I wrote {write out the name} John. As soon as I finished writing John, my tongue was loosed and I could speak.

Oh, the joy that filled my heart. Then I remembered again Gabriel’s words who told me, I will not be able to speak until these things take place. I, Zechariah remembered the kindness of the Lord and my tongue was loosed. By the power of the Holy Spirit I began to say: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David…”

Today, I, Zechariah, stand before you because I remember the mercy of the Lord and want to share it with you. “The Lord remembers…us” We stand like Hannah before Eli, like the enslaved Israelites as Moses comes on the scene, as Abraham with the knife in his hand before Isaac as the Ram in the thicket is revealed. For all time God has remembered His people and in that remembrance has blessed us. Yes, the Lord remembered and gave me “My Son” John who is really a “Gift of God” for that is what his name means. Not Zechariah Jr., but “GIFT OF GOD…JOHN”. PAUSE.

This is the Lord’s way, even when I am weakened by age and inability to have a child, He remembers. He remembers that I am dust... a sinner... and so He gives me... gives you too... your Savior. My doubts are no different from your doubts.

In a dramatic fashion the good news for us seemingly, “too good” and yet it is true. My son, my Gift from God grew up as the last Old Testament Prophet - the forerunner of Him who makes all things new. I didn’t get to see with my eyes or hear with my ears the words he spoke or the Baptisms he performed. Oh how I would have loved to have been there on the banks of the Jordan River that day when God Himself, in my flesh, knelt down and fulfilled all righteousness. But I knew my boy as a boy, and though I taught him the Word of God as a good father must do, my boy taught me that God truly remembers. I am a sinner and a doubter, yet one who has been blessed by the Lord to be His own. In your calling, as women of faith, you stand before the Almighty Father with hands ready to serve Him and His people. Each of us has been called first to be His own - through Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Then, to share His joy with others.

One final thought if you would permit me to share with you before I return to Judea. I believed that doing my “once in a lifetime” service in the priestly service in the Holy Place would be the highlight of my life. And it was, but not because I was serving God, but because He served me, and remembered me and my wife and our prayers, and because He served and loved you in that same moment. The altar of incense offering was not the key, ah but the Word of the Lord, “Fear Not!!! - Now that was the key then and it is now for you. You have fears and needs - Fear not, the Lord, He has remembered you. Even so, Amen!

Zechariah leaves with joy in his heart and on his face.

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