Sunday, November 07, 2004 +

GS 001 Jerusalem in the Time of Herod the Great

A priest enters the Temple sanctuary. He and his wife live in the Judean hills: old and childless descendents of Aaron, a pious couple, strict observers of God’s ceremonies and laws. He has been called with others of his order to officiate for a term and has been chosen by lot to burn incense while the people pray outside. He sees an angel standing next to the altar of incense on the altar’s right side.

THE ANGEL. Zachary! Don’t be scared: your prayer’s heard. Elisabeth will give you a son, whom you’ll call John. You’ll be jubilant and his birth will be a festival, because he’ll be great in the Lord’s eyes. He will not drink wine: in his mother’s womb he’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit—in Elijah’s spirit he’ll walk before his Lord—turning fathers’ hearts to the children and naysayers to the wisdom of the loyal, making a people ready for the Lord: many of Israel’s children he’ll turn to the Lord God.

ZACHARY. How will I know this? I’m old—so is my wife.

THE ANGEL. I am Gabriel, who stand in God’s presence and am sent to you to speak this good news. Look: you’ll not talk till the day these things are achieved—because you don’t believe my words, which will be accomplished in their time.

The congregation waits for Zachary, wondering what’s delaying him. He comes out unable to speak but gestures that he has seen a vision.