Take a few moments today to read Luke 1:5-25, and pay special attention to the character named Zechariah, a priest belonging to a specific division of priests. Luke gives him the honor of being the first person in this gospel to receive a visit from God – specifically, from Gabriel, an angel of the Lord. What a tremendous interruption to an otherwise normal worship service!
Who could blame Zechariah for doubting that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child in their old age? After all, his ancestors Abraham and Sarah had just as much trouble believing God’s same promise to them. Yet in order to emphasize the message and the truth of God’s promise, the angel told Zechariah that he would not be able to speak for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
Can you imagine what the next several months might have been like for Zechariah? This goes against what we normally experience in the season of Advent! At this time of year, people are usually filled with excitement, expectation, hope, and other positive emotions – whether it’s about opening presents, visiting family, eating a good Christmas dinner, participating in a Christmas Eve candlelight service, or another of the blessings of this season. But Zechariah had to spend significant time – more than a month! – silently waiting the fulfillment of God’s promise: that his son would soon “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (vs. 17 NIV).
Can you imagine Zechariah’s growing excitement as he watched Elizabeth grow more and more pregnant in the months that followed?
Culturally speaking (and within the church), we have only one month to celebrate Advent, the coming of our Lord. We may not be struck silent by an angel of God for this entire season, but our challenge is the same. We are called to wait eagerly, with anticipation, for the coming of the Christ child. The greatest event in human history – God himself being born as a human baby – is an event that changed the world. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to spend the preceding month as Zechariah did his wife’s pregnancy: with ever increasing joy, hope, excitement, and anticipation of this long-awaited birth of our Savior!