Feb 11

Rev Gav

Communication

You may have heard the expression, ‘be quick to listen and slow to speak’ and in this devotion we ponder what it means to give voice to the voiceless.

Luke 1:19-22

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

Reflect

An angel had just told Zechariah that he and his elderly wife were going to have a baby and Zechariah told the angel that he had made a mistake. Oops! He had doubted the angel’s message, and if he wanted a sign then he certainly got one! The angel made Zechariah mute (unable to speak) until the baby, John, was born – and that was likely to be at least nine months away!

Meanwhile, Zechariah had clearly been in the temple far too long because the people outside were a bit anxious. As they were not permitted to go in after him, they gathered outside the doors, waiting to see what had been going on, until finally, Zechariah came out waving his arms, communicating that he had seen a messenger from God.

What must it have been like for Zechariah to be dis-abled in this way? It must have been terribly frustrating. Imagine having the greatest message for the world and being unable to verbally communicate?

Like Zechariah, there are many people in our society who do not have a voice, and older people are one group that find it difficult to be heard. Zechariah was both old and now mute.

Do

Think of a person you know of who people do not listen to – someone who is overlooked or ignored. It could be someone at school, college or work, or a relative. Perhaps it is someone with special needs or learning difficulties. If you are able, commit to spending time with that person, to listen to them. You never know, God might just have an important message for you from them.

Pray

Holy God
I want to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Help me be a voice for the voiceless,
that they may be heard by the wider world.
And help me hear your voice through others I meet.
This day and for ever.
Amen.

Think

1. How would you describe meeting an Angel – especially one telling you the most important news in the world – using only your hands and arms?

2. Who are the people in our community who are often ignored and how can we go about listening to them?

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