Luke 1:5-13 [14-25] 57-80 John the Baptist’s birth;
Blessed be the God of Israel who has looked favorably on his people.
This is a narrative that should be familiar to Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth are both of lineages of the temple and priesthood. Both of them are descended from Aaron, and they are named as righteous before God, living blamelessly. That description echoes that of Job, which should be a warning to those of us who remember how that turned out. Zechariah and Elizabeth are old, they have no children, and Elizabeth is barren. Does any of this sound familiar?
If we go all the way back to Genesis 17, Abram gets this same type of visit, and has the same type of response. As a matter of fact, Abram laughs. (That’s right, Abram laughs in 17, Sarai laughs in 18, but most people only know Sarai’s laughter.) In Genesis, God follows through on the promise, with no real punishment for disbelief. In Luke, Gabriel silences Zechariah for his disbelief.
The promised child is born, Zechariah sings, and the story repeats. The story of the promise of a child that will begin the process of blessing the world, born to unlikely parents, begins again. Zechariah wasn’t ready for God to include him and Elizabeth in the story. Are we? Do we know the story well enough to recognize when God is at work right in front of us?