Zechariah’s Story: Luke 1:5-25, 57-79
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.
It’s not terribly difficult to sympathize with a man like Zechariah. Though we look to Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement as one we long to emulate (such faith, such open obedience), it is Zechariah who we often feel more akin to. Incredulous, unsure, afraid, maybe even wondering if what he was seeing and hearing was legit, or just a figment of his own, worn-out-with-waiting imagination. The story doesn’t say. Except that he was troubled, and afraid. And even after the angel gave him specifics, he asked for a sign to be sure. His sign was a stern response and imposed silence until the miraculous baby, John would be born.
But months later, as his mouth was opened and tongue loosened, the beauty of Zechariah’s words poured out and continues to echo down through the ages. We sit with those words, and like Zechariah can look both expectantly towards the coming of God, while watching for signs of his coming in our present experience.
“Blessed be our God, for he has visited and redeemed his people,” cries the old priest with a miracle baby in his arms. And at the same time, we look for the tender mercy of our God…
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Look for the coming of God, but look too for his tender mercies in the day to day. Look for it where things are making little sense, where the way is perhaps hard and there are little or no signs of growth. Too often, we see the successful, the blessed, the way opened up bright and easy as being the sign of God at work in the world. But most of the old stories say otherwise. And Zechariah’s story is just one small, powerful scene to tell us that God comes in the irrational season, to the barren, the hidden away, the obscure and the poor.
Let’s not run away too quickly, or complain too loudly when we are in the place that seems small and perhaps even fruitless. Let us be on our knees, looking for the Light, making room for the One who has come into the world, and dwells among us, a foretaste but also a present glory that is overcoming all our darkness.