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Honor the Moment


Our narrative lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday is from Luke 1:5-25.  It is the story of a priest named Zachariah encountering an angel who foretold the birth of a son in his old age.  Zachariah couldn't believe the message, so he was struck mute until he named his son John.  This was Jesus' cousin, John the baptist. 

In reading this with our youth group this week they were struck by the idea of righteousness.  They noted that Zachariah's wife, Elizabeth, was full of joy because the angel took away her disgrace.  In other words, she was disgraced in her community for not having a child, something she had no control over.  On the other hand, John was considered even more righteous because he never drank wine or fermented drink, something he did have control over.  This led to an interesting discussion on grace, and I appreciate the direction they took it, however, my mind went elsewhere as we read.

The phrase that stood out to me, was that Zachariah only got to do this task of putting incense on the altar once in his whole life.  He was on the priestly rotation, so he would serve in the temple at all three of the major feasts, and 2 additional times a year.  So he served in the temple 5 times a year, but he only got to do this job one time in his whole life.  Generally it was only the high priest who entered the central chamber of the temple, and even then, it was only for special times of worship, like the Day of Atonement. 

This was a special day for Zachariah.  He was likely cued into how special it was.  He may have been excited, or scared as he entered.  While he is in there he happens to see an angel.  I wonder if he thought that was normal?  This is the only time he would ever do it...when things are already special, do we notice the things that make it extra special? 

Zachariah reminds me to slow down and savor the moment.  He reminds me to savor the special moments, or I may miss that something extra special is happening.  He reminds me to savor the normal moments, so that I may see the profane already woven into them.  He reminds me to be watchful, and mindful, and full of wonder.

What do you wonder about in this story?

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