Advent Devotional – Dec. 23

Dec. 23                            Luke 1:57-66                                       Matt Hanify

Our main characters are Elizabeth, who is pregnant, and her husband Zechariah, who is mute. I don’t believe those items are related.

Anyway, Elizabeth gives birth to a son, and everyone is happy. So far, everything is according to plan. One day, also according to plan, “they” come to circumcise the baby, whereupon, after much crying I assume, the child will be named Zechariah, after his father.

However, throwing a bit of a wrinkle in things, Elizabeth says he is to be named John – “God is gracious.” Unfortunately, this is not according to plan, and there is apparently much hand-wringing. So, of course, because Elizabeth’s opinion seems irrelevant, everyone turns to Zechariah, mute though he may be, to find out what his opinion might be. He motions for a writing tablet, and on it, he writes, “His name is John.” I think we can all agree – an objectively smart move by Zechariah. I am not mute, much to everyone’s consternation to be sure, but if I were, I think I would work very hard to placate any and all in my immediate family. I think being mute would make things very difficult on those around me, but being mute and opinionated, obstinate and otherwise belligerent would be, I imagine, a quick way to getting abandoned on the side of the road.

Thankfully, Zechariah is nobody’s fool; he quickly agrees with Elizabeth that the boy’s name is John. I imagine the circumcision crew giving a side-eye to this turn of events, but then, in a full-blown miracle, Zechariah begins to speak. And he begins to praise God. And, possibly, later on, he suggests that they get takeout.

And so thank You, God. We give thanks for all of Your miracles, which can sometimes come from changing a child’s name late in the child-naming game or from agreeing to said name change. For, indeed, “God is gracious.”