Good morning everyone! Just a few days left of Advent….
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”
I have been having some interesting encounters with people lately. They say, “How are you doing?”
And I reply, “Great! How are you?”
Then they ask, “So do you like where you are right now?”
And I reply, “Oh my gosh, I love where I am right now! It’s a great fit.”
Then they say, “Yeah, I can tell. You somehow just show that you are happy right now.”
If I pursue why people say that it is obvious that it is a good fit, it usually has nothing to do with what I actually say. People will tell me that I look healthier, happier…that they can tell from my facebook pictures that I am enjoying life and my ministry. Plus they tell me that my face lights up when I talk about things that I am doing in this place. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges and bad days…but it is true…I am enjoying life. I have to admit that when people tell me they already know that I am enjoying myself I secretly think, “Why did you ask? Ask me about what I am doing then!”
I find this to be true when I talk to others as well. When they are asked about job or kids or grandkids or a passion, their true feelings are given away way before the words come out of their mouth. You know what I am talking about as well…there is something that happens to one’s face when joy comes on the scene. A smirk or a smile, a fire in the eyes, a spark that is about to take off. Sometimes there is even a spark of joy and then just behind that there is a hint of fear….
I have a good friend that is about to be a dad. When he told me about baby, there was the smirk and then a look of, “Oh crap, now what do I do?” Every time we chat about baby there is a moment of pure joy and a moment of pure fear about this journey. The other day he told me about feeling his daughter for the first time. What a fantastic moment! And then he said, “oh man, we are in big trouble, aren’t we?” I chuckled and agreed and then clarified that I am soooo excited to spoil the little one! This is what I love about being the auntie..I get to dote and then hand them back to mom and dad. 🙂
These moments are good too. It means we know that they are important moments and make the joy that much sweeter. I can only imagine what Zechariah must have felt during this time. And he obviously didn’t need words to clarify. It would have been apparent all over his face. An old priest and his wife were going to have a baby…pure joy and fear all mixed into one. Plus an angel gave him prophecy about his son…what a gift for Israel and how fearful for his parents. When Zechariah came home that night, I doubt he had any problems conveying to Elizabeth that something had happened that day. Not until John is born will Zechariah sing out again in his pure joy. But in the meantime, he gets the privilege of not having to try to convey in words what is happening in his heart. He can communicate with looks, with body motion, and with his stillness, his effervescent joy. What a gift! Not a punishment! To have to convey with more…to have to sit in silence…to have to listen to everyone else.
In Advent, as much as we are called to wait, we are called to experience deep joy mixed with our anxieties. We have talked about lament and enough but what about our great joy? We may not feel like it but remember a time when it resides in you and dwell a bit.
Yesterday when I left our Wednesday worship service, called Bread and Wine, Mark asked me what I had planned for today. I replied in haste, “Not much is scheduled tomorrow. Do I need to schedule something? I was going to work on this and this and this…wanna meet up and check in?” He replied, “No, I think it’s great you aren’t scheduled tomorrow. Would you just take some moments tomorrow to enjoy the season and dwell in it? Take care of yourself.” It was a nice reminder of my day to remember the joy, and enjoy the season. Please, dear friend, take a moment today to feel some joy, enjoying all that is around you…no words necessary.