Prayer: Great God, we thank You for the times of surprise when we acknowledge Your presence in our midst. Great God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we humbly pray that You guide and govern us by Your Holy Spirit. That in all the cares and occupations of our daily life we may never forget You, but remember that we are ever walking in Your sight. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Luke 1: 11 – 17
On probably the happiest day of his life as a Priest, something astonishing happens. Before Zechariah can leave the Alter of Incense and go bless the people, an angel of the LORD appears to him. The angel stands on the right side of the altar of incense.
When Zechariah sees the angel, Zechariah is startled and gripped with fear.
The angel says, “Do not be afraid!” We often think that angels, messengers of God, are cute humans with wings. Indeed this is might not be the case. When angels appear before anyone, they always say, “Do not be afraid!” Now, whether that is for the sudden appearance into a room or what the Messenger of God physically looks like we don’t know.
Then the angel announces that Zechariah’s prayer has been answered. He and Elizabeth will have a son. In the Jewish understanding, having a son means a continuation of one’s name. A son also was legally responsible for all the father’s property at the time of the father’s death. To have a son was a special blessing in Jewish understanding.
The angel continues that the son’s name will be John. This is unusual as sons were frequently named an ancestral family name. The sons were named at a naming ceremony which was just after the ceremony of circumcision. A Hebrew name would have been announced at the time. The name “John” is of Hebrew origins and means “God is gracious”. The angel saying, “His name will be John”, takes away the tradition of the father (and family) choosing a name and making public this name in a ceremony.
Yet, the angel also includes a list of instructions of the character of John.
List here the characteristics of John that the angel has stated:
And finally the angel ends by telling Zechariah the vocation his son will have. John will be in the spirit of Elijah before God by turning the hearts of the people back to God. John will make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Wow! To know all about your son even before he is conceived!
Prayer: God, You are gracious to us. Holy God, You are gracious to us. Mighty God, You are gracious to us and we give You thanks. Amen