Luke 1:13 & 1:18
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Luke tells us Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God. They must have prayed for years – decades, even – for the gift of a child. At some point, they accepted that God’s plan for their lives did not include this particular blessing.
Now an angel appears to Zechariah during worship, as he is burning incense in the sanctuary and praying, telling him that not only will he and Elizabeth be given their longed-for child, their son will be great in the sight of the Lord and prepare his way.
It’s understandable, I think, that Zechariah can’t believe this amazing news. He knows how old he is, and how old his wife is. He has forgotten at least two things: all things are possible with God and God’s timing is often not our timing. The angel tells him he will be mute until the baby is born and Zechariah affirms his son’s name is John.
It’s easy to see Zechariah’s inability to speak as a punishment for doubting God’s promise. But instead, God is giving him time to listen, and remember, and prepare for John’s birth and mission. Elizabeth does something similar, going into seclusion for five months so she too, will be ready.
Just as God sent his messenger to Zechariah during worship, he also sends his messengers to us during worship: those who read Scripture, preach, pray, make music, share a handshake or draw our eyes to Jesus in countless other ways are messengers from God. Worship is a gift to us.
Zechariah received a life-changing message as he and his community worshiped. We do, too. We are reminded of God’s love and of his power and of his promises. God uses worship to gather His children, to refresh and renew us, to change our hearts and to equip us for His work in the world.
When we absent ourselves from worship, we miss out on the blessing God wants to give us. We miss the opportunity to grow closer to Him, to better understand his will for our lives. And certainly we miss the opportunity to receive Holy Communion and share it with our fellow believers.
There is power in worship. Be there.
Heavenly Father, help me to see worship as the gift it is. Help me to gather with my fellow Christians to give you praise and to be blessed by you and them. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck