The wisdom of Jesus is. uplifting, soul-feeding, awesome, guiding.
Sometimes God takes his time, and we should be very grateful that he does. Unanswered prayers and delayed answers to prayers can be a real blessing, saving us from ourselves and our own plans. Welcome back to Radical and Relevant where we are exploring the enduring wisdom of Jesus Christ in the Gospels as we make our journey through Advent. In today's scripture, from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel, we hear the story of Zechariah serving as priest in the temple when an angel appears to say his prayers and longings for a child have been answered. In the days of Herod, King of Judah, there was a priest named Zechariah of the division of Abijah.
And he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. But they had no child because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now, while he was serving as priest before God, when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar.
And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great before the Lord. And he shall drink no wine nor strong drink. And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
And he will go before him in the Spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers of the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel who stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them. And they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted a child their whole lives but had resigned themselves to the idea that it wasn't meant to be.
Some sources cite Elizabeth's age as 88 years old, so I can't really blame Zechariah for expressing a little bit of doubt and confusion when the angel reveals this news to him. The idea that reached out to me in this reading was one of promise. The angel reveals the plan to Zechariah, but the angel also reveals a series of promises God was making about this child. These promises began with this phrase: "You will have joy and gladness." Joy and gladness. What is bringing you joy and gladness at this time in your life? The word that struck me in today's reading was "turn."
One of the promises the angel conveyed was that their son John would turn many of the children of Israel toward God. This is a hopeful promise for everyone because it demonstrates that hearts can be turned: your heart, my heart, your spouse's heart, your children's hearts, the cranky person at work, and all the others who irritate you. Our hearts, human heart, can be turned from their current path to a new path that leads to God. Your prayer has been heard. This is the phrase of the day. This is what the angel says to Zechariah: "Your prayer has been heard." This phrase reflects a fundamental truth that we too often lose sight of. God listens to His people. God listens to your prayers.
Today's virtue is patience. We can never have enough of it, and the more we grow in patience, the easier every other virtue becomes to embrace. Patience is knowing what to do while you wait for God to answer your prayer. It is so easy to busy ourselves with all the wrong things while we are waiting for God to answer our prayer, but patience is filling that time, that space in your life, with the things that will make you better able to live out whatever it is God asks of you next. Patience is knowing what to do while you wait for God to answer your prayer. The gospel of Jesus Christ is as radical and relevant today as ever before, so go out into the world today and astonish people with your patience in this impatient world. And remember, don't just be yourself. Be the very best version of yourself, all that God created you to be.
Thank you, Ambassadors. You are changing the world. Have a great day. Bye-bye. Simon, come sit. I love you. Have a great day!