“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. 8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spiriteven before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1.5-17
Day one of our ”Ten Days of Christ “ begins with “The Invitation.” It could have been given to anyone really but it just so happens that one of the priests on duty at the Temple In Jerusalem, who’s name was drawn by lot, was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies that day. It just so happens that this man was the husband of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary who would be the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth was too old to bear a son, or so they thought.
Both Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous before the Lord. Zechariah was a member of the “priestly division of Abijah” and Elizabeth “was a descendant of Aaron.” They had outstanding pedigrees!. “Both of them were righteous in the sight of the God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” But they were without child yet God was about to do something amazing in their midst.
The invitation comes first to Zechariah while he is in God’s Presence. It’s an invitation to a father of a son who will prepare a way for the Messiah. We know this son to be the future John the Baptizer who would be a first cousin to Jesus. John was a Levite, from the tribe of Levi, descendants from Aaron the brother of Moses.
The invitation comes to Zechariah to be a part of what God is doing. It is no small matter. God is bringing forth his Son, the Chosen Messiah, who will redeem Israel and save the world from their sins. Zechariah meets with Gabriel and hears everything he has to say, but because he doubts, he is made mute until the boy is born to Elizabeth six months later.
God was activity working in Zechariah‘s world as he is today. Those who are remain in “God’s Presence,” as Zechariah did, will hear from the Lord. But when God speaks to us, showing us signs and wonders of His mighty works, let’s not respond with doubt but gratitude that God is including us in his invitation.
This is the first reflection of our Ten Days of Christmas. It begins with the invitation of Christ inviting you to be a part of his world, his plan and his purposes. God’s invitation to all of us is in the form of a relationship. He wants us to know him like he knows us. He wants not to control us but to fulfill us. He wants us to find our meaning in an intimate, saving relationship with the God of the Universe.
Just as God invited Zechariah and Elizabeth to join him in his work, so God invites us. Will you say yes to God’s invitation? You might not be a part of the birth or pronouncement of the Messiah but you will be a part of his promise to save the world from their sins and from themselves. Why not join God in this activity? Lean into Christ and allow your love to flow outward toward the One who love us first?
“O Lord God, thank you that you always begin with an invitation. You welcome us when we often reject you. We find our selves addicted to phones or sex or alcohol — anything that distracts us from the true meaning of life. But you can tear down our walls and prioritize our hearts. Come now, Holy Spirit, save your people. Redeem us from our sins, free us from our diseases. Allow us to know the goodness of our God and the greatness of your plan. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen