I like to think of Luke 1 as the prequel to the gospel, a much better story than the ones shoehorned in to explain “A New Hope.” Luke shows us Jesus’ ties to Jewish heritage, scripture, and theology within the context of a family origin that befits a divine birth. In this last section, John is born, the neighbors argue with Elizabeth about the name she gives him, and finally Old Zechariah is consulted.
After asking for a tablet, he surprised everyone by writing, “His name is John.” At that moment, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he began praising God. (Luke 1:63-64, CEB)
Back in line with God now, Zechariah is delivered from speaker’s block.
Of course, the neighbors got the same information from Elizabeth. They just didn’t choose to listen to her.
Who do I listen to? Whose words carry the weight of authority for me? There are certain people whose words I trust, some I follow closely to learn more about things I used to think I understood but now realize I did not. I may have drifted away from scholars toward people with lived experience, away from white men (dead or alive) to women and especially women of color. They are my teachers, whether they know it or not, in the way they live and the ways they speak truth, the ways they prophesy.
Am I writing for attention? I wouldn’t say that preaching carries the guarantee that anyone is listening, but it’s true I miss the interaction with others. In the space I’m inhabiting as I work from home, I am looking for a place to engage about life and faith.
Zechariah had everyone’s attention when he finally spoke again, and then he prophesied. He summed up what his people sought in a savior, including a light in the darkness, and a dawn breaking, and help in the valley of the shadow of death. He set out the marks the Messiah was to hit; later John would ask if Jesus was really the one, because he hit them, but not in the ways John imagined.
And maybe that’s the takeaway for this listener/reader: what God has in store may not be anything like what we pictured for ourselves, but it will still be good.
Keep me open, Holy One, to see your light on the path of peace. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? I’m using the Common English Bible; tomorrow I’ll be reading Luke 2:1-20. Full schedule can be found here.