Counting the Days: December 17, 2023
Sean Hardy ’19, M.Div.
Kelby Hardy ’20, M.A.
The 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.