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Monday, December 19, 2016
Scripture Reading | Luke 1:57–66
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. (NRSV)
Having attended a Catholic university, I had the luxury of sending a quick email to my priest of choice with odd theological questions. I often wondered why so many biblical prophets and apostles were renamed, sometimes much later in life. For instance, why was Simon, an old fisherman, suddenly renamed Peter? My chaplain responded in an email, “What a great question, ‘Esther’!” He explained that when God or Christ changed a person’s name, that person was called to a new identity and journey, undoubtedly something unique and pivotal to the Christian faith. So when Zechariah and Elizabeth share that their son, who is a miracle himself, will not bear his father’s name, we know John is destined for something greater in God’s plans.
The crowds were astonished the couple bore a child in old age and did not honor God with Hebrew naming customs. However, Zechariah and Elizabeth knew God had greater plans for John, whose name means “God is gracious.” As we walk with John in the New Testament, we witness his role as a bridge and his close relationship to Jesus. This passage calls us to mimic John’s call for a greater testament in our own lives. How is God calling each of us to something more unique and fulfilling than what we have planned? Are we able to answer God’s call, which is often very different from what society or our family expects of us? God sees something great in each of us, and while it is a blessing to have the mere gift of life, we must remain conscious of God’s journey in our lives and how we share our talents, gifts, and blessings with the world.
Dear God, as I prepare this Advent season for Christ’s birth, allow me to prepare my heart and mind to rebirth in my own life. Let me answer that special call you have for me, and let me share my gifts, acting as a bridge to others. Amen.
Written by Jackie Lorens, Director,
Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center
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