Sean Hardy ’19, M.Div.
Kelby Hardy ’20, M.A.

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

Luke 1:5-13


Sean Hardy & Kelby HardyThe story of Zechariah in the temple is not one we traditionally associate with Advent. We like to focus on the Angel coming to Mary and the birth of Jesus, but before that, there is this peculiar story about Zachariah. Zachariah and Elizabeth are models of the pious life and yet the text tells us that they have no children. In a society that valued children, this made Zachariah and Elizabeth stand out. And yet, while these two are waiting, God moves in this couple’s life. Zechariah is chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to offer incense. Luke presents us with a scene of a community of people praying outside of the sanctuary as Zachariah enters the sanctuary to offer his own prayer. God answers these prayers in the form of an angel that tells Zechariah that he will have a son named John.

When we think of Advent, we think of one word, waiting. Waiting for Jesus to be born, waiting for the Messiah to come, waiting for the redemption of the world. This story at the beginning of Luke keys on waiting. Elizabeth and Zachariah wait for a child and wait for prayers to be answered. This story teaches us something important about waiting; what we do while we wait matters. While waiting, Zachariah prays both as an individual before God and in a community at the temple. There is something about this powerful image of a community gathering around an individual as they step before God that excites us for this season of Advent. As we wait this year, let us not only discover the grace and love of God as individuals but as a community. A community striving to better understand the miracle of Christmas as we patiently wait for our Lord.