Luke 1:5-13 NRS
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 and 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”
Luke 1 is the story of Zechariah. Waiting, surprise, and expectation are key elements of his narrative, just as they are elements of Advent. He is a priest who with his wife Elizabeth has a close relationship with God. They have no children and both are getting too old to have children. However, God has heard Zechariah’s prayer. Faithful waiting is noticed. Imagine Zechariah’s surprise at seeing an angel who tells him that Elizabeth will bear a son – and not just any child, but a child with a special purpose. This child would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. They are to name the child John. This child is sent to prepare the way for Jesus. Another part of God’s prophecy is fulfilled. Preparation is part of John’s purpose. It seems that waiting and preparation are linked. And joy and gladness result from faithful waiting.
As you reread the passage, what “sparkles” or stands out for you? After holding those words before God do any insights come? .
Perhaps these questions will help in your reflection:
For what are you praying?
How long have you been waiting for an answer?
Is waiting part of God’s preparation?
Have you ever been surprised by God?
Do answers from God look different from your expectation?
What is your expectation for this advent season?