Reflection—December 19, 2018 Luke 1:57-80
God is at work in the barren places. Or maybe it is better to say that God is at work in what seems like barren places because where God is there is life. And there is often more happening than meets the eye. This is where we were the first Wednesday of Advent with Elizabeth and Zechariah, learning they would be giving birth to a son name John. And we are reminded, of course, that our God is the God of hope.
Last week, thinking about peace, our attention turned to Mary. The engaged but not yet married young maiden who lives in not so glamorous Nazareth finds herself impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Difficult as these circumstances might be, Mary embraces her status. We are reminded that our peace is not so much determined by our circumstance as it is by our faith in God’s providence, knowing and trusting that we belong to God.
This week is the week of joy and, as we make our way to the birth of Christ, we turn our attention back to John the Baptist, celebrating his birth.
In this week’s reading, we are immediately struck with the joy of the events that are transpiring in Elizabeth and Zechariah’s lives. A child is born and the hope that was born in the temple when the angel announced to Zechariah what would transpire is now come to fruition. To the old, once-barren couple a child is born. Neighbors and relatives heard of the mercy God had shown Elizabeth and “they shared her joy.”
As I read that in preparation for today, I was thinking about Sunday’s sermon and our discussion of the connection between gratitude and joy and I was struck by the joy of the surrounding cast. The miracle that comes to Elizabeth and Zechariah is a blessing for all the people. The baby is their joy too. The miracle is their miracle too. Paul puts it this way—when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers, and when one part rejoices, the whole rejoices. So it is here.
And the joy continues. Once the issue of the name is resolved, Zechariah’s tongue is let loose and he is free to speak and sing and converse and shout and praise God and all those thing for the first time in nine months. And how does Zechariah use his newfound freedom? He does what people do when they are feeling happy and light or even ecstatic. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he sings. And Zechariah’s song is prophetic and yet full of praise.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)…
Joy, of course, is full of praise and we can imagine Zechariah was ready to share the good news he’d been unable to share for almost a year. It’s hard not to be joyful about good news. It’s hard not to share good news. And we are blessed by the joy of news from Zechariah and Elizabeth.
This is the week of joy… So this afternoon… let us take a few minutes to meditate on joy.
- And as you do, ponder your own circumstances… and ask that the Lord would not only restore the joy of your salvation but to be able to share that joy with others.
- And, of course, think of others you know who are struggling with joy… and lift them in prayer to the Lord too.