More than once scripture shows the heart of God and his power through the elderly, the barren, taking even dried bones scattered on an ancient battlefield to create living human beings. God delights in using the weakest, the most crippled, the least likely to display his power. So it is not unusual that he would choose the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth to bring forth a son, who Jesus would describe with these words: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Matt. 11:11 NIV] The angel Gabriel greeted Zechariah by saying God had heard his prayer followed by the proclamation that he and his wife, though old would have a son.
Call me strange, but I expect Zechariah had not prayed for a child in a good many years. Certainly, it had been the prayer of his youth and maybe well into middle age, but it is highly unlikely that it had been on his most recent prayer list. Still way back when, God had heard his prayer and NOW was the time for the answer. As Pastor Dan told us this morning, write down your prayers, your requests so you can check them off when God answers. Then you won’t be scratching your head like Zechariah, you’ll be checking off ‘Lord, bless Elizabeth and I with a child’ or your equivalent thereof. No wonder Zechariah scoffed at Gabriel…can’t you hear the touch of sarcasm in his remark, ‘what? Now?’ Be careful, God closed his mouth until after the answered prayer had been accomplished and named, John.
Now I doubt Zechariah or Elizabeth were anywhere near the manger physically, seeing as how these old folks were caring for their then three month old son when the Christ Child was born. Nevertheless, this old faithful couple played just the role God chose for them in the narrative of the nativity and the life of Christ.
Watch out for folks who seem cut off from the joy of Christmas. Speak to strangers. Offer assistance. Ask someone older for help or to go shopping or invite someone to share a conversation or a meal. It is so easy to fall into being with folks we know, that our circle becomes tight and those on the fringes go unnoticed. Don’t be a STRANGER. Let Christ be in Christmas through how You and I treat ALL people this season.
And by the way…
Reach out to the grumpy old people—wait a minute–I am one of those. That’s ok, sometimes I need a reminder of what Christmas really is about, too.