Surprise and Hope

Hello all! Sorry about the delay!  Hope you all are having a fabulous Saturday.

Today’s scripture: John 1:5-15a (NRSV)

 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty,he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. 

The Gospel of Luke starts differently than any other Gospel. Each Gospel embeds the beginning of Jesus in different ways, highlighting important parts of our narrative. For Luke, the story begins with these two characters, Zechariah and Elizabeth.  We know that Zechariah is a priest and Elizabeth is his wife.  They haven’t been able to have kids.  Elizabeth is barren. We know that they are old according to the writer.  Life seemed pretty quiet.

I think of this couple setting the scene and how they probably had wanted a child but those hopes are gone now. They are devoted.  We don’t know a whole lot about them and we don’t even know that they are in any way related to Jesus…yet.  Pretty soon we will find out that Elizabeth and Mary are cousins. But right now all we know is that this couple haven’t been able to have kids and they are devoted to God.

While Zechariah is doing his job, God comes to him and tells him the world is going to change. Elizabeth is going to have a baby.  This baby will be great.  As the audience reading, we know that this baby will set the path for the one who we are waiting for. But in this moment, that doesn’t matter, God is changing this couple’s world.  The things that used to be impossible now seem to be possible.

I love this part of the story.  God decides that Zechariah won’t be able to speak until the birth.  Limitations are placed but it doesn’t matter.  We immediately know that the world is changing right before our eyes. These are the signs. These lovely people are creating the impossible and they are setting the stage.

This story gives me hope and promise. It makes me open my eyes to what might be setting the stage for change for us.  In my world right now, there is so much hopeful conversation happening that I am searching for hope.  The homeless situation has caused lots of conversation about prayer and a way forward. We have a meeting with the police chief to propose better ways on Monday before our prayer vigil.

I am also seeing people provide for people that they haven’t before.  We ran out of meat for our Saturday morning breakfast and all of a sudden 400 dollars was donated to provide more.  I got to deliver a gift to a family the other day. I was asked to deliver to these folks from an anonymous donor. There was joy and surprise.  Joy and surprise provide hope (Zechariah and Elizabeth gain joy from surprise).  I see people being a little kinder. Let’s hope that it lasts beyond just this season.

Where are you seeing the stage being set?
Peace,
Coutney

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