Advent Prayers, 5 December
“I know the plans I have in mind for you,” says the Lord,
“plans for well-being, and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29.11, New Living Version)
Zechariah had it all planned: it was his turn to enter the sanctuary and offer incense to his Most Holy God. He liked it when it was his turn. He liked the ritual of it: preparing the fire, heating the coals, dropping the sweet sticky grains of perfume on the coals until the smoke danced high on a shaft of light. He liked waiting in silence until the darkness shimmered and God was all in all.
Afterwards, he would return to Elizabeth – to the one who shared his life. Long ago, he had hoped that others would share their lives too: a son, a daughter, a child to give delight. But that was long ago. He’d watched that hope burn on the coals until he was at peace with what he had.
His plans were simple now: he would light the incense and pray, then he would go home to Elizabeth. There they would eat and talk and laugh their way through the long evening.
Gabriel, however, had other plans. He watched as Zechariah bent over the coals. He wondered at the oddity of God’s choices – these strange people God chose for his plans. He waited for an hospitable cloud of smoke; then he stepped out of shadow and scared Zechariah half to death. (Ah yes. Gabriel liked it when it was his turn too…)
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah. God has heard your prayers. Elizabeth will bear a son and you will name him John.” Zechariah floundered as God’s plans eclipsed his own: “… a son? But how? How can I trust what you say?” He missed all the warning signs as Gabriel blazed brightly and rose in outrage.
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to give you good news. But now, because you would not believe my words, you will stay silent until these things come to pass.” Zechariah tried to protest, but he choked on his words. Gabriel gave an arch smile, bowed, and left Zechariah to his duties.
And so it was that Elizabeth spent nine happy months: preparing for her son, rejoicing with her cousin, and laughing (kindly) at the silent fury of her much humbled, much beloved husband.
Today, we pray for Space4U : the Spalding centre for listening and counselling. We pray for all whose lives are thrown by the unexpected, and those who help them to make sense of it.
the original post is here.