Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

The Song of Zechariah Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1: 68-79

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Pssst. C'mere. I've got a radical proposal for you about Zechariah.

Many of us, during Advent, are reminded in the Annunciation story in Luke 1 that before the angel Gabriel visited Mary, he visited both Elizabeth and Zechariah, and they had a little chat about becoming the expectant parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah asks for a sign, and Gabriel strikes him dumb, saying, "But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur."

I like this particular artistic rendition above of the event for one simple reason: Gabriel doesn't look "punitive." The popular take is that Zechariah was "punished" by the angel for his disbelief.

Well...(lean closer...I'm whispering here)...I don't think Gabriel was being punitive at all. I think he's mostly going, "Ok, don't believe me...I can understand that. You say you want a sign? Okay, you've got it. But it WILL occur, and you'll know because you have your voice back."

I mean, why would the angel say, "Don't be afraid," and then turn around and give Zechariah a swift kick in the mouth? That does NOT go with "don't be afraid," unless you're some sort of abusive jerk.

The Greek word in this text for "believe" is the word "pisteuo." It literally means "be persuaded of," or "to have confidence in." So I don't really think Gabriel is saying, "You nasty unbeliever, you...THWAP! Whatzza matter Zach? Cat got your tongue? Bwahahahaha." It's more like, "Ok, I can see you don't have confidence in this notion. You will by the time I get finished, and I'm giving you a gift that will help you see it--silence."

Think of it this way. I'm just a mere novice at using "silence" as a spiritual reflective tool, and I can see how it reaps huge spiritual benefits in myself. Zechariah was one of the priestly class. He probably knew even more about the value of silence. It kept him from just blurting out babble about being visited by an angel. It gave him time to think about what both Elizabeth's and Mary's pregnancy meant. It meant, when he had opportunity to speak, he would know just what to say...and judging from the message in the Song of Zechariah, he evidently made good use of it.

The 14th century Dominican mystic, John Tauler, explains the gift of Zechariah's silence like this: “God cannot leave things empty; that would be to contradict his own nature and justice. Therefore, you must be silent. Then the Word of this birth can be spoken in you and you will be able to hear him. But be certain of this: if you try to speak then He must be silent. There is no better way of serving the Word than in being silent and listening. So if you come out of yourself completely, God will wholly enter in; to the degree you come out, to that degree will he enter, neither more nor less.”

This week, take some time to enter the silence yourself. This is the week of "rejoicing" in the Advent journey. Let God enter wholly into your being and see what seeds of joy reside inside of you, yearning to be released.


All I can say is, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... very thought provoking.




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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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