There I sat, in the waiting room of the maternity ward. My friend had gone in to labor in the middle of the afternoon and the network of cell phones buzzed furiously; “It’s time.” As I looked around, I saw moms, dads, siblings, uncles, cousins, friends, and just about anyone else who knew her. The birth of her first child was a moment for celebration. We all came together to celebrate a new life and pass around the baby together (after, of course, a sufficient amount of hand cleaner).
As the birth of John the Baptist comes, the story of Elizabeth’s pregnancy made its way throughout the community. The miracle baby was coming today and the whole town was ready to see what God was up to.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.– Luke 1:57-66, NIV
Share With The Community …
Our faith is meant to be shared, not only in the evangelistic sense, but also in the sense that we live out or faith in a community, together. We may have personal moments, but our faith is played out in community with other believers. If we are supposed to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV) then we must be willing to share those moments with those in our faith community. The community shared in the excitement of Elizabeth’s miracle and was enriched by it, seeing the hand of God. Likewise, we display the blessings and miracles of God in our lives, inviting others to see what the Lord has done, and celebrate the hand of God together.
… What God Has Done
Yet, the desires of the community should never trump the direction that God has given. For Elizabeth, naming their child John broke major tradition and the community though it was imprudent. After all, no one in the family was named John. Where did the name even come from? Yet, Elizabeth and Zechariah were positive that God has planned this moment down to the name of John. No matter what the opinion of the community is, it must come under the direction of God. The story God is weaving through our lives may defy expectations of those around us but God’s plan will never cease to amaze and impress even the community.
As far as this chapter of Luke goes, the chapter ends with an eager expectation of what is coming. The God instituting the New Covenant to save mankind sent John to prepare the way. It was not going to look like the people thought it would, but that was the point. Safety was leaving. Home would be a foreign concept. The desert would be home. But the Kingdom of Heaven was coming crashing.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
– Luke 1:80, NIV