The Gift of Silence
Imagine being told that you would become parents of a baby at a very old age. Is it any wonder that Zechariah had some doubt about what the angel was telling him. As terrifying as a visit from an angel may seem, the message he received was even more a cause for alarm. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.” [Luke 1:13]
By that time the prayer for a child was likely long forgotten and so we can excuse Zechariah for wondering how this could happen. Some say that he was punished because of his doubt. The angel took away his voice and he couldn’t speak for a time. I think that he was actually given a gift — the gift of silence.
God was going to do something spectacular in the world. Not just a baby to an elderly couple but God was doing even more than that. The gift of silence would give Zechariah time to think and reflect on what God was doing.
Life was hard for the people of God, for Zechariah’s people. The Romans were harsh oppressors and the people cried out to God. Many would have thought that God had forgotten them. We also may feel that way when times are hard for us. Where is God? Has God forgotten me?
In Zechariah’s time of silence he had time to think about God and pray to God and especially listen to God. In the silence God reminded Zechariah that God remembered. Zechariah’s name actually means, “God remembers.”
God remembers his people.
God remembers his holy covenant and the promise made to the people.
God remembers to show mercy.
God remembers to show love.
God was redeeming his people.
God has redeemed us and God IS redeeming us.
Maybe this year we also need a gift of silence. A time in which we can listen to God’s voice. A time to hear what God is saying. A time to reflect on what God is doing and how God is redeeming, not only us, but redeeming the world. A time to see that God does remember.
It is my prayer that each of you can experience God this Christmas, in the silence and in the noise, in the joy and in the sorrow. I wish you a very blessed and peace-filled Christmas.