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Luke 1:57-66

The Word of God

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, "No; he is to be called John." They said to her, "None of your relatives has this name." Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:57-66
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The name ‘John’ means ‘The Lord is gracious.’ Elizabeth chose it, and she had a particular experience of the graciousness of God. Think of how the Lord has been gracious to me.
    • The name is also important for the one who is to be God’s messenger. He will present the face of God, and God comes to us as graciousness, as mercy. We try to bring that graciousness, that mercy of God to those we meet.
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    • The name (‘John’) of this child to come tells us, in its original meaning, that God has shown special favour. The Lord is shaping a new future for humanity and the new-born’s call will be to announce to all, that this is just what is happening.
    • Zechariah and Elizabeth have been blessed with this new life in their declining years. And through the miracle of the unexpected birth, and of the binding and loosing of Zechariah’s tongue, the people realise that here God is taking a very direct hand in events - they know that they are on the threshold of mystery.
    • Each and every new life arriving is a reason for rejoicing - any new life (including one’s own) is sent on earth by God for some purpose unique to itself – and always merits deep thankfulness and celebration.
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    • We all know the joy that is occasioned at the birth of a baby. Everyone gets in on the dance of joy on the occasion of John’s naming. Elizabeth’s independence and trust in God comes to the fore. He will be called John. Zechariah, in breaking with old patterns and supports his wife’s insistence, recovers his power of speech.
    • Lord, Praise, amazement and joy are hallmarks of a life rooted in you. Fill me with these gifts. Enable me to be a tracer of your grace in my life and to lift up my voice in joyful thanksgiving.
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    • Mother and father were agreed on the name John, which means God’s gift. Every name has resonances, reflecting why it was chosen.
    • I think about my own name. I thank you Lord, for my name, which is written on the palm of your hand.
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    • The neighbours and relatives who attended for the circumcision had their well-worn expectation about the child’s name. But they had to learn that it is God who chooses the name and the destiny of this child. Perhaps, with every child, God moves the world in a new direction?
    • How do I stay open to the God of Surprises, to the Spirit that moves at will? Is my comfort-zone too well defended for me to be surprised by grace?
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    • I join in the excitement around the birth of Elizabeth’s baby. I become aware that God is fulfilling his plans through human beings who collaborate. So too God wants the child called John, and this is what happens. In Luke’s understanding of salvation, what God decides will eventually be fulfilled. I ask for faith to believe this and to be free of anxiety.
    • How did Elizabeth know that the child was to be called John? Did a small voice tell her this? Do I listen for the small voice that tells me what to do? Elizabeth and Mary were ‘ordinary people’ just as I am. God speaks to me as God spoke to them.
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    • Even in his old age, Zechariah was ready to break from the old patterns. I ask for the help that I need to step away from usual patterns and to follow God's call.
    • I pray for all children: may the joy and hope that they experience live and grow into a deep appreciation of God's goodness.