Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas Eve: Zechariah’s Song: Tim Mountain

Luke 1.67-79

Advent. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and look forward to the coming of …… TV-show finals such as Strictly, Masterchef, The Apprentice, X Factor.  Shows characterised by competiveness and rivalry. How many times over the past few weeks have we heard the tired clichés, ‘It means the world to me’ or ‘I’m gutted’, from winners and losers? But of all those taking part, when the dust has settled only a few will be remembered; most will be forgotten.

Here is Zechariah praising God for the birth of his baby boy who will be tagged ‘Baptist’, because that’s primarily how he’s remembered, not forgotten. John, reminding people of the Way of the Lord, right living and repentance for wrong living; getting them ready for the coming One who will give them what he can’t, namely the Holy Spirit.

Zechariah seems happy with the role his son would have. He doesn’t seem to be a pushy parent that some today are. John would be second fiddle, forerunner, herald to One with a more significant place in history. John would be the one who gets things ready. Like the wedding planner. Like the roadie. Like the make-up and costume departments, floor managers and camera operators in Strictly who set off the dancers in the best light possible.

Perhaps Zechariah might have been forgiven if he’d felt a twinge of jealousy and envy that it would be Another who would occupy the limelight, not his own dear baby boy. After all, he had been privileged with a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to enter the Holy Place to burn incense. He’d had an angelic visitation. John’s conception was extraordinary – a miracle – given Elizabeth’s age. His son would walk in the spirit and power of the great prophet Elijah.  But Zechariah seemed content. John would prepare the way for, not be in competition with, Messiah. Of course, at one level he couldn’t be! But neither should he be. They would walk complimentary, not rival, paths. He would be a witness to the light, not the light. They exercised different ministries and each had his part to play in God’s greater scheme.

Each of us has her or his ‘calling’. It is the ministry we offer, the path we travel, that which we are that shapes what we do, what we believe God draws us into. Furthermore, our calling is not another’s calling, nor their ours. Each is individual and unique. We are not in competition with another’s ministry. Our focus is to be not so much on what someone else does but to walk the Way that we believe God leads us, bearing witness to the light to the best of our ability and with holy intention, as did John.

Prayer: Lord, grant us grace that we might walk along the path you have called us to follow, learning contentment not competiveness. Help us to live humbly and so to fulfil the hopes and desires you have for us, allowing Jesus to be pre-eminent in our lives. Amen.

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