People of the Nativity – Day 1
- Luke 1:5-7
During the time when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife's name was Elizabeth; she also belonged to a priestly family. They both lived good lives in God's sight and obeyed fully all the Lord's laws and commands. They had no children because Elizabeth could not have any, and she and Zechariah were both very old.
- Luke 1:11-13
An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right of the altar where the incense was burnt. When Zechariah saw him, he was alarmed and felt afraid. But the angel said to him, “Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son. You are to name him John.
What a year this has been. Between an ever-shifting political and economic landscape both in South Africa and abroad and new struggles in my own personal life, I think it’s safe to say it was an unsettling year for me. And I don’t think I’m alone. The constant barrage of bad news and the drama that each day seems to bring has left me reeling.
As Christians, it’s important to remind ourselves that nothing that has happened, or will happen, comes as a surprise to God. We need to make time to take a step back and look at the world from an eternal perspective once more.
Let’s look at that first Christmas and the people who were there. First up is Zechariah.
Things weren’t great for him. He and his wife Elizabeth were getting on in years, and were childless. There was a tremendous stigma attached to being without children and he would have felt the shame keenly.
For most of the year, Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a small village “in the hill country of Judea,” (Luke 1:39), except when Zechariah’s was on duty in the Temple. He was obscure and insignificant and thought of as something of country bumpkin. Moreover, they lived in dark days during the tyrannical reign of Herod the Great (37 to 4 BC).
Zechariah could have easily stopped praying, became bitter, and stopped working for the God who was not providing a child for him. But this is not how Zechariah’s story ends. We know that God answered his prayers and proved himself faithful by blessing him with a son, John the Baptist, who would announce the coming of Jesus.