Zechariah and Elizabeth

The order I belonged to, the Order of Abijah, was on duty in the Temple for the week and according to our custom, we cast lots to see who would go into the sanctuary of the Lord to burn the incense. The lot fell to me, so I went in and performed my duty. I remember it clearly, because a large crowd had gathered outside that day to offer their prayers to God.

I had always been faithful to carry out my duties as a priest and together with my wife Elizabeth, herself coming from a priestly family in the line of Aaron, had strived to live blameless lives before the Lord in all we did and said. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was unable to have children and now we were both getting older, the dream of starting our own family had long faded. So I lit the incense, uttered my own prayer, and watched the smoke as it drifted high into the air around me.

Suddenly, I was startled to see someone standing next to the alter. Once I realised it was an angel of the Lord, I began to shake with fear. Then he spoke to me,

“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

Although I heard the words, I could hardly believe my ears.

“How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Again the angel spoke to me, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

I’m not sure how long I was in the sanctuary, but apparently the crowd were beginning to wonder if something had happened to me. When I finally emerged, I realised I could not speak, so I tried to explain what had happened using hand gestures. Eventually they understood that I had seen a vision.

I finished my week of service and returned home to Elizabeth. Not long after that, the most amazing thing happened… Elizabeth became pregnant! I had never seen her so happy.

“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

Take a moment to reflect on the story you have just read.
(sometimes it is helpful to read it again, slowly)

*Was there something in this story that you discovered—or thought about—for the first time?
*As you think about the story, what questions do you have? What do you wonder about?
*How might this story change your perspective / beliefs / behaviors?

I would love to hear what you are discovering as you think through these questions.
Comments are moderated to ensure they are relevant to the story and questions above.

~ Christmas Story Collection ~

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