He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors 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 neighbors, 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.
The surprises keep on coming!
The story of advent is all about surprises. God enters humanity, as a helpless child, born to obscure parents, in a location far from the powers of the world. But, before all of this come the surprises for Zechariah and Elizabeth.
In their old age, Elizabeth is pregnant while Zechariah is mute. The child arrives – and she insists he be named John – now the town is talking, the surprising news is spreading. But wait, there’s more – Zechariah speaks!
Now the town is past surprised – they are in awe. ‘The fear came on all who dwelt around them’ and they could not stop discussing it. This is fear and excitement, possibility and wonder, the lowly being exalted. The beginning of….what?
As you walk through advent this year, may you embrace the surprises ahead.