When I was growing up, in our family we didn’t really say much about Advent as a season. We talked about Christmas, of course. But having an Advent calendar, or lighting an Advent Candle at our church on Sundays wasn’t something I was familiar with until I was grown. But I have come to appreciate in a deeper and more significant way, I think, the four weeks before Christmas we call Advent.

The season of Advent is a time of expectancy and anticipation of the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives. Advent celebrates the physical birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem, — what we call The Nativity. But it also celebrates the Advent or reception of Christ in the hearts and lives of believers. And as we observe this wonderful season, Christians are reminded and encouraged by a yet-to-be-seen Advent: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Every Advent season, I am struck again by the characters in the story of God’s redemptive plan to send Jesus into the world. Luke, chapter one gives us a wonderful account of three, totally unique and chosen by God individuals;  a trio of characters, each with their own song and part to play. Three people who were minding their own business, following God’s plan, living their daily lives waiting for the long-promised Messiah, until God decided it was time. He sent word. He let it be known. He had special plans for each member of the trio. The cast of characters I I call … them.

Zechariah was the first of ‘them’ to hear from God’s messenger. Luke describes him as a priest, serving in the temple, doing what priests always did when their turn to burn incense came around. He was busy lighting those incense, when Gabriel showed up out of nowhere, and scared him nearly witless. “No need for fear,” said the angel. He was just coming to have a conversation and deliver an announcement, a birth announcement. “It’s a boy,” said Gabriel. “Congratulations. Your wife’s gonna have a baby boy named John.” Don’t birth announcements usually come after the baby gets here? And don’t parents usually get to pick the baby’s name?

And besides that, … Say what? Wait. “Are you sure?” asked Zechariah. “I’m old,’ he said. “And so is Elizabeth. We’re both old enough to know that old people don’t have babies,” is what Zechariah was trying to say.

Well, Gabriel had already heard from God, and as it turns out, he’d heard enough from Zechariah, too. “Shut your mouth, and don’t open it again until the baby gets here,” is essentially what he said. Lock jaw set in from that very moment, and didn’t release for several months, when it was time to name the baby … that baby named John.

Zechariah was the first member of the trio I call … them. Zechariah was an old man, but his story never gets old to me. I’ve never seen an angel, like he saw. I don’t suppose I’ve ever had an angel tell me to shut my mouth, either. But that certainly doesn’t mean there haven’t been many, many times when I should have been ‘slow to speak, and quick to listen.’

In this wonderful Advent season, as you decorate your tree, or light your Advent candle, or celebrate an Advent calendar, I invite you to join me between now and Christmas as we examine three extraordinary lives, three characters in the Advent Story. Next week, we’ll look at Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth.

5 thoughts on “Zechariah

  1. I really look forward to hearing Classic State of Mind each Monday morning.
    Thank you for taking the time to share with us. May God continue to bless you.

  2. We keep in touch with our California home by listening to you. We always enjoy your worthwhile messages. Enjoy this season.

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