Monday, December 21, 2009

Birth of John the Baptist

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”Luke 1:13-17

The angel said to Zechariah that he prayer had been heard. It is written in the account of the story, but I am sure Zechariah might have said (at least to himself, if not aloud) "what took you so long?" He must have prayed a million prayers over a long span of time and experienced some frustration and maybe a small bit of doubt. We do know that Zechariah, a priest, challenged the Angel Gabriel and was struck dumb for the duration of his wife's pregnancy. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were well advanced in years and they had no children after many years of prayers and trusting God. They were faithful people, but were puzzled and confused by God's timing.

I will speak for myself and probably what I say will resonate with others - but I am often confounded by God's timing, throughout history and in my own life. It seems that children come, in God's time and not when requested or at a convenient age,comfortable circumstance or a particularly good time. The gifts and miracles we often prayer for come.And they come when we are least prepared and most incredulous. God's love for us is without end and the Creator's ability to surprise and challenge us seems likewise. This is the season of whimsy - sending a pregnant woman to Bethlehem to a stable for her child who would be born the Savior of the world. Hid attendants were sheep, cows, chickens and other assorted animals. He was visited by shepherds and king. Puzzling and confusing - and wonderfully tender and real for then and now.

May we be prepared for the answers to our prayers to come at the most whimsical and unsuspected time. May we rejoice that God is not practical and wonder of God's perfect and ridiculous timing. And may we all continue to pray, knowing God will answer in the most surprising and complete ways.

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