Silence. Some 400 years had crept by without a prophetic peep. God’s people had suffered through the reign of the Greeks, raised a Jewish revolt (led by the Maccabee family) and enjoyed some self-rule before the Romans blanketed Palestine.
All without a new word from God.
But the time of silence was ending. An angel appeared to a priest with a message from God. New words from the Creator King were spoken in the temple to Zechariah, who doubted and was stricken with more silence while others were given new words.
New words came from a pregnant Elizabeth, who rejoiced in God’s blessing.
"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."
Mary celebrated after Gabriel revealed the miracle on incarnation. Words could barely capture her joy.
My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
Even Zechariah, relieved of his temporary muteness, burst into exultant song:
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
But that was nothing compared to the angels, who tumbled out of heaven in a magnificent ecstasy, proclaiming the most-amazing birth announcement ever made:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
God brought out the full choir and orchestra for this delivery.
But the words hadn’t stopped. Simeon, that faithful and devout Jerusalem Jew, was alerted by God to meet Mary and Joseph at the temple. On seeing the baby, he celebrated:
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
Words seemed the most appropriate way to celebrate this new birth, this revelation and glory that had come to earth. The plan was unfolding in the midst of song and prophecy.
We are on the cusp of Christmas, abuzz with gift-wrapping and fudge-making. We, as followers of Jesus, have chosen this season to celebrate the birth of our Savior, although there’s no indication that he was actually born on December 25. It’s a day we chose to celebrate.
So let’s celebrate! Do your words – and do mine – dance as Mary’s did? Do we throw our arms to heaven as Elizabeth sang? Do we tumble forward to praise God for his grace?
Can we be, like Anna, give thanks to God and speak about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38
May these be days of song, of words of delight and joy. Glory to God in the highest!