angelic words, angelic songs — Zechariah’s silence; Zechariah’s song – Advent wonders 2
Who, what are angels? I may as well ask, who, or what am I? A husband and father. A teacher and a principal? Or a grandfather? A Writer?
Have what I have done, or may do in the future, define who I am? No. I think not.
I believe I am formed, defined, by what I truly, fully hear. Words, sights, sounds I open to, absorb shape, have shaped my life. Bruised fruit shapes other fruit it comes in contact with. Abuse can bred more hurt. Love seeds greater loves. Life sends me words, feelings, hurts and desires…. messages.
Angels are life’s messengers. Wikipedia tells us that the name, the itself word comes from the medieval Latin masculine name Angelus, which is derived from the Greek word ἄγγελος (angelos) meaning “messenger”. Their name defines them, as an agent, a speaker for God. And how we, others hear them, define us. Defines me. Zechariah is the first person to hear a biblical angel in over 400 years. How he hears, speaks of how we hear today, this advent.
Luke’s gospel narrative begins with the angel, Gabriel, coming, coming, to speak,
“ Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
Then an angel of appeared … When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid,Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at the their appointed time.” Luke 1
A priest who cannot speak? Who cannot sing or pray? Who can not read the scriptures? Who can only now hear his own inner voice asking over and over, “How can I be sure?”
How can I know?
Gabriel tells him: on the day this happens; at this appointed time; you will see, feel the truth of my words. Then believe.
And then John is born. And then Zechariah hears. And this silent priest now sings. Sings this song of praise, this prayer for us, to Luke, to Jesus,
He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.”
Zechariah’ angelic song
‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness…”
From silence to song, from unbelief to faith, a priest sings as angel. He hears and sings at the right moment, the appointed time. Zechariah sings.
And as we hear, so will we sing angelic songs.
This advent sing of Him, His wonders, sing His life song.
Sing as a an angel. Sing.