Monday, December 6
Luke, master of literary flashbacks, leaves us with Mary returning to Nazareth after a three-month visit with her cousin. He is concise beyond belief in Elizabeth’s birth narrative: After When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son, he immediately turns to the reaction of friends and family: they shared her joy. At any woman’s age, birthing a child is time for rejoicing, but when this child is born, it’s miracle time.
Are you using your imagination to see, feel, hear the stories hidden within Luke’s stories? Sit with Elizabeth. What do you hear? How does she feel? And where is Zechariah?! Elizabeth is old and tired, her body literally stretched beyond belief during the birth process. As she slowly moves around the room, cradling the son she never believed would be hers, she is already thinking of what must happen next. According to Jewish law, a son will be circumcised eight days after birth and plans are already being made for the ritual even as people crowd in the small rooms.
We’re about to see a bold woman unexpectedly take a place of leadership usually held by a man. We know, of course, that Zechariah can’t give the required verbal naming instruction so when the religious leaders basically ask, “What is to be the child’s name?” they assume the name will Zechariah Junior, and the child will become a priest as he follows in his father’s footsteps. Such assuming is just the way it goes.
Based on family, church, or community custom, what do you “assume” is your role in the Kingdom? What footsteps will you follow? Have history, customs, expectations limited you? Perhaps still limit you? John Ortberg writes, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” What keeps you in the boat? What can you say or do this Advent to break the pattern of assumption? What will happen if you climb overboard? The first step always involves risk. Are you ready?