Advent 3: Silenced

Zechariah was doing what he was supposed to do. He was a priest in Israel. He was at the temple for his annual season of work. On this particular day, he was feeling pretty proud, in a humble sort of way. On this day, he was at the pinnacle of his religious career.

There was an altar of incense in the temple in Jerusalem. Lots were drawn among the priests each day for the privilege of going in and burning the incense. It was a once in a lifetime event. And some people never got the chance. Today Zechariah won.

And Z is in there, in front of the altar, in the geographic representation of the presence of God and suddenly, an angel.

The angel says that Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, will get pregnant, long after it ought to be possible.

Zechariah is in THE holy place. He sees an angel. He clearly hears a message of hope. His response is, “How will I know?”

Of course, he wasn’t saying “How will I know she’s pregnant?” Duh. That was obvious–or would be. No, I think what he was saying was, “How will I know, how can I be sure, that you are telling the truth, that you will do this amazing thing? How do I know that you really are going to work this time? How can I know that you are talking to me?”

When the message that he hoped for came, he was pretty unconvinced that it could actually happen. And for the next several months (at least nine) he couldn’t talk. The angel said so.

That’s how I am. Tell me something, and I’ll say, “really?” People should slap me. But when the thing I’m hoping for is promised, I still wonder, I still think, “This couldn’t be an angel, not really.” I couldn’t be happy. God couldn’t be really planning to work in and through me, could He?”

And so we are in a place of not being able to talk. Of being stuck in our disbelief, our uncertainty. Even after we see God starting to move, we can’t talk.

But the truth? Miracles happen.