Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent 2013 : Day 1

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, lived an old man and an old woman, Zechariah and Elizabeth, husband and wife.

Zechariah was a priest. For most of the year, he served his neighbours as teacher in wisdom and arbitrator in dispute, and in guaranteeing the provision of a City of Refuge, a place for those in fear of their lives to flee. But from time to time, in rotation with the other priests, he would go up to Jerusalem to serve in the temple.

On one occasion, on duty in the temple, Zechariah was chosen to perform the greatest honour, to go alone into the most Holy Place and burn incense before the Lord. The kind of honour old men tell their wide-eyed grandchildren about, over and again. Or, perhaps, it is too holy an encounter to speak of. Who can tell? Except that Zechariah had no grandchildren; for he and Elizabeth had no children.

There had been a time when the unspoken things – the inexpressible things – might have built up a wall between them. But Zechariah loved his wife, and Elizabeth loved her husband, and before the wall could be built they tore it down - even those who might believe themselves cursed by God find mercy in a City of Refuge…

In time, their longing and waiting, and holding fast to God’s goodness even when their prayers remained unanswered…in time, the silence was transformed, became a background sound, a deep recognising of the other, of their presence and of their great worth. It may be that, attuned to this, Zechariah became aware that he was not alone a fraction of time before he saw the angel…

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