My Dear Jesus,
Thank you for Luke’s attention to detail and sense of order. A physician would notice such things and take the time to assure that we know we are getting all the facts. it is comforting. It provides structure and context and reminds me that nothing escapes your notice and intention. You have considered ALL THINGS, even down to the lineage of Elizabeth, from “daughters of Aaron,” the first priest. She figures prominently in the story and becomes an encouraging speaker of God’s prophetic word to the mother of Christ and the bearer of the playmate and older cousin, the baptizer and proclaimer of the Messiah. Her son, John the Baptist, becomes the first martyr in the cause of your mission. And even when he expresses a moment of doubt, you lovingly reassure him and remind him through tangible evidence.
Zacharias’ reaction to the angel of the Lord reminds me that righteousness and reverence contain an element of holy and appropriate fear but that you are a good and loving Divine God who hears our petitions and answers the deepest cries of our hearts with compassion. We need not quake in fear of destruction. We can receive your presence and your message with expectant joy and readiness to respond. Lord, I repent that I did not always recognize that children were a sign of your favor. I grieve that many have failed to see and acknowledge that truth. Use your people to bring that truth back to the world. Thank you that Catie Byrd Kelley, sweet granddaughter called and empowered by you, has embraced the ministry of life-sanctifying proclamation through her work in law. May her effort find favor in hearts and courtrooms.
It is interesting how that little phrase, “For nothing is impossible with God,” was used to convince a skeptical virgin that she would bear a child by assuring her that her much older menopausal barren cousin was also going to bear a child and was, in fact, already six months along! It apparently seemed more farfetched for Elizabeth to have conceived than for Mary herself to conceive and she was convinced and comforted! The angel’s case was made. Mary was not alone in this miracle and she hastened to go see Elizabeth. Surely, a six month pregnant Elizabeth and she would have a lot to talk about. Oh, Jesus, you do not leave us without role models, teachers, companions, and friends and confidants for comfort and accountability! You have created us for intimate fellowship and community. And with Zacharias struck mute for the entire term of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, this was the perfect time for Elizabeth and Mary to bond in their unique pregnancies and pray for their sons, search the Scriptures and prepare for their roles as mothers, too, to two children God had especially equipped and called for his work! I cannot imagine their excitement! It makes Mary’s proclamation of the Magnificat so much more understandable and relatable when seen in the light of the circumstances and timeframe.
Zacharias’ prophecy speaks of redemption as an accomplished fact with the birth of John. The wheels of it all are in motion. It is clear to Elizabeth, Mary, and him. Three witnesses are all that are required to establish the truth of it. And this chapter ends with “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit….” (v.80). Jesus, you have shown me in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “be ye wholly sanctified- spirit, soul, and body”- that spirit is first and foremost that which is God’s charge to us as parents and individuals to cultivate in children, whether they are biological or spiritual children to us. And it’s why you put the name “Titus 2” on my heart for the discipleship ministry with women to which you called me. Nothing is wasted in your realm, Jesus. And truly, nothing is impossible with you, Holy One!
I thank you, Jesus, that you are this God that works in such intricate details and that Luke has shown us some of these details that preceded your birth and set the stage through the lives of Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and John in today’s reading.
Desiring to experience more of your goodness daily,