Malachi 3:13-18 / Philippians 1:18-26 / Luke 1:68-79
By Libby Miller
Have you ever gotten news that just drops you in your tracks...you are left dumbfounded, mouth agape, no words, not able to speak?
This is how I imagine Zachariah felt when he got the message of Elizabeth's coming pregnancy. He literally didn't believe it possible, EVEN when the news came directly from the angel, Gabriel! Gabriel foretells not only that this child will be named John, but that he will be a great prophet, the Messenger that will prepare the way of the Lord!
In his unbelief, Zachariah questions the angel, and Gabriel responds by putting him "on mute" until all the prophecies are fulfilled.
Can you imagine the months that followed...all that he heard, all that he knew in his heart, all that God so graciously allowed him to witness as it came to pass?! Months and months passed until, finally, his boy is born. Zachariah, upon the circumcision of his child, acknowledges his name will be John and in that very moment his tongue is loosed and he is free to speak once more! Full of the Holy Spirit and overwhelmed with joy, what he chooses to say in this moment is beautifully profound and full of precious promises. It is the Benedictus, the canticle of Zachariah, the song we sing in Morning Prayer to daily celebrate Gods fulfillment of his promises to us for our freedom, redemption and salvation. (Also called the Dawning of Light, The Song of Zachariah):
Rolf Jacobson says:
"The theology of Zachariah's song is elegant and ideal for Advent. The Spirit-empowered poem recalls God’s promises. The words of promise to David that “he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old” and “the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham.” The promises of salvation from enemies, of redemption from danger, of freedom to love and serve God in holiness and righteousness."
And the song announces that these promises are kept in the nearly-twin arrivals of John and Jesus.
John’s own role would be to serve as “prophet of the Most High.”
And when the first Christmas morn was dawning, the tender mercy of our God broke into the darkness of this world for all. That light still shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot overcome it.
So, as we learn to "wait well", we, like Zachariah, can confidently enter into the silence, focus our hearts and minds on Christ, and anticipate the arrival of HOPE, JOY and PEACE, the dawning light of our salvation!