Repeat from DECEMBER 3, 2009
Zechariah was a priest serving in the temple in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is ruled by the Roman government and its army. And the army had been there a long time.
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had lived a righteous and blameless life, but not one like they would have chosen for they had no children. They had been waiting for a long time. Then the Lord sent a messenger, Gabriel, to Zechariah to tell him that Elizabeth was going to have child.
Zechariah disputed the possibility of getting something that he had longed for so long. Gabriel responded, "Because you didn't believe these words, you are not going to be able to speak until the things I have promised you occur."
Today's reading is the opening portion of Zechariah's response when he is allowed once more to speak.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied that a savior was to come and that a messenger had been sent to announce that news.
He expressed gratitude to the Lord that the promises made to Israel were going to be realized, promises of rescue from enemies. Zechariah then reminded them what forgiven, rescued people were supposed to do with their freedom: serve God in every way on every day.
Try making Zechariah's Benedictus part of your morning prayer each day:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for you have looked favorably on your people and redeemed us.
You have raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of your servant David.
You have spoken through prophets that we would be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us.
You have shown mercy to our ancestors and remembered your holy covenant,
the oath you swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us rescue from our enemies
so that we might serve you without fear
in holiness and righteousness all our days.
On this Sunday when we focus on the Reign of Christ, we hear the words given by the Holy Spirit to Zechariah and Elizabeth's son, the one we call John the Baptist:
And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
The Holy Spirit also told what was to be for these forgiven people. They had been living in darkness, afraid of death. Now the light from the Lord would guide their feet into the way of peace.