Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Yesterday, I was greeted by one of my students declaring she wanted to meet with me the next day. Moments later her best friend came up to me asking, “has she told you about her condition?” In the south, “condition” only means one thing. I looked back to my student. She looked at me earnestly and said, “You’re going to be a grandpa.” That is not the news I wanted to hear. A teen pregnancy in our times rarely counts as a blessing, but in the life of Zechariah and Elizabeth, children were the ultimate blessing and ensured a legacy. They had been considered barren. The arrival of a child affirmed the holy lives they led.
Even with the blessing of the coming child controversy surrounded the naming of the newborn baby. While Elizabeth insisted on naming him John, the relatives challenged her because none of the relatives had that name. Tradition called for the child to be named after a relative. Elizabeth was insistent and her (mute for the duration of the pregnancy) husband finally asked for a tablet to write. He agreed with his wife and his speech returned. Tradition provides a certain level of comfort – those actions are comfortable and familiar. Doing God’s will, though brings a level of joy that surpasses the ease of tradition.
In this third week of Advent, with the focus on joy, the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah offers the perfect focal point. Elizabeth and Zechariah experienced great joy with the birth of their son, but even greater joy at following direction from God. By naming him John, they followed God’s guidance and the blessing of a child was multiplied to them. Joy exceeds almost every other emotion in spirituality. We see the fullness that joy creates in the story of the birth of John the Baptist and it gives perfect guidance for the Advent week that focuses on joy.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org