Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zechariah's Silence

“But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
                                                                                                  Luke 1:20

I cannot imagine how Zechariah felt during the time he was silent. It would have been all of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and even before, so he was probably mute for ten months or more. Over the past week, my ability to talk has seemed essential, as I was traveling and needed to be able to ask for help with arrangements and directions. I’ve thought a lot how difficult it would have been to contact the hotel shuttle driver or to ask an airline agent how to adjust for a missed flight.

Zechariah couldn’t share in the joy of telling friends and family what he had seen in the Temple and that, after long years of disappointment, he was going to have a son. He could not relay the prophecy about his child. He could not share the good news.

How helpless he must have felt. When you have spent your life talking, what must it have felt like to go so long without being able to do so. Our ability to speak is one way we are judged by society to be relevant. Have you ever sat quietly when others are offering their opinions and not shared your own? Have you tried to say something and been ignored? We attach great value to our ability to say what we think, to speak our mind.

What submission Zechariah must have learned over the long period of silence. He couldn’t easily convey his likes or dislikes. He couldn’t tell others if he felt good or bad. He could neither express joy over his son’s impending birth nor offer verbal comfort to Elizabeth as she experienced the growth of the baby within her. It must have been a humbling experience.

How might being silent change me? 

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