Dr. M. Kenneth Lyon
December 24, 2000
We are used to this time of year hearing the story of Mary and Joseph, starlight and stables. It's the miracle story of Christ's birth, but our scripture reading this morning reminds us that this whole birth narrative thing has another miracle to be considered - it's the miracle of Zechariah and Elizabeth. In the scripture reading you heard it said that Zechariah and Elizabeth were well past childbearing age. They were at that age when folks generally are checking their 401 Quarterly Statement and dreaming of that little retirement place here or there. They'd really kinda grown accustomed to the idea, that though they had desperately wanted children, it really wasn't going to be. Now Zechariah is scheduled, along with his division of priests, to serve there in the Temple. He is really pumped up because, by selection by lot, he is the one that is being privileged to go into the Holy Sacred Space and there to burn the incense. You see, it was quite possible for a priest to serve his entire life and never have the opportunity to go into that Holy, Holy Place. But now he had the opportunity. I think he must have been like a kid on the night before Christmas - just wide-eyed with wonder - wanting to do everything just right, knowing that he was representing his people, his priestly order and all the people of Israel, and he wanted to do it just right. He was honored and also humbled and he was also probably a little anxious to enter into this sacred place. So the next day when he dons his priestly garb and goes into that place separated from everything else, while he is there fulfilling his obligations, a messenger of God, an angel Gabriel, manifests himself to Zechariah and says, "Have I got news for you? You know that thing that you and Elizabeth prayed about for years and years"? (Remember, Elizabeth and Zechariah are Godly folks. It says they lived upright, they were people of great faith and ...
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