‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
This song from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke comes from the mouth of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. These lyrics come from the lips of a man who had not spoken for some time. When an angel had visited Zechariah while doing his duties as a priest, he did not believe the good news that he received, that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son and that this son would turn many people to God. Because of he did not believe, he was made mute until the time of John's birth.
Having his speech temporarily taken from him, I imagine Zechariah had a lot of time to ponder and listen. Sometimes we need one of our senses taken from us in order that the others can do their work. One of the challenges I have always had during the season of Advent is finding time in the hectic holiday season to shut up and listen to what God is doing in my life!
Once Zechariah's speech returns to him, the first words that come from his mouth are the words of praise that we are given in Luke 1:68-79. Often called "the Song of Zechariah," this hymn glorifies God and blesses God for the mighty acts that have been made known to God's servant. May we, too, be silent enough that we may find the wisdom to sing about what we've heard. A time will come for singing; but first must come the time for listening. That is what the season of Advent is all about!
Perhaps, then, Zechariah's imposed period of silence was not a punishment but a gift!
Prayer of the Day:
God of Sound and Silence,
as I begin this day,
give me ears to listen to your presence in my life.
Like Zechariah, I am witness to how you are moving in the world.
Send your Spirit this day that I might wonder and ponder
and, when the time comes, give me words to sing and rejoice! Amen.