John’s birth announcement

Ever wonder what John’s birth announcement would have looked like? That’s where my mind went last night.

Imagine the birth announcement in the paper….

photo of Zachariah, infant John & Elizabeth, with godmother Mary

“With each child, the world begins anew!”

With great surprise
& overwhelming joy,
we announce
the safe arrival of
son of Zachariah
& Elizabeth

weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces

born July 24th
in Hill Country, Judea

In lieu of gifts, the family ask for every prayer offerings for the coming Messiah.

And then imagine the local news coverage of the event…

On July 24th, a long awaited miracle took place in our small town. Local priest Zachariah and his elderly wife Elizabeth shockingly gave birth to a healthy young boy after decades of fruitlessness.

In another unexpected twist, bucking tradition, their son
John was not given a traditional family name. Instead, he was named, as an inside source explained, by God as relayed through the angel Zachariah saw in the temple while working. This occurred right before he lost his ability to speak, only a short whole before Elizabeth went missing until well into her pregnancy.

The parents give all the credit to their late in life conception to the Creator, and are deeply moved at His miraculous answer to their dream of having a child.

On John’s naming day August 2nd, amidst all the upheaval over the parents’ choice of name, Zachariah’s speech was restored!

He apparently had way too much wine in celebration, and uttered some strange poetic verses over John once he was able to speak again…

Despite some of the quirks to this story, it is apparent that God has blessed this couple with a late in life bundle they are delighted to have received, and we should keep an eye out for what God may have in store for this special boy.


trusting His promises

When we left off yesterday, Mary was staying with Elizabeth…for a three month stay. Since Gabriel showed up when Elizabeth was 6 month’s pregnant (Luke 1:26), I believe Mary was there when the next good news arrived in the Advent story- the birth of John.

Why do I consider this good news?

1) John was a visible reminder of the promise God birthed in Zachariah & Elizabeth- that they would have a son.

2) As herald for the Messiah, it would make sense that his arrival would strengthen Mary’s need to know God was in the business of keeping His promises.

3) A baby is always a blessing sent from God. New life is to be celebrated. A baby to a childless couple after years of waiting would be a major community event! As a cousin, it would make sense for Mary to be there for John’s birth, especially after hearing her cousin’s miraculous story, which closely lines up with her own.

In Luke 1:57, Elizabeth bore her son. Their miracle had arrived! I love how the next verse speaks of her joy, in her older years, of giving birth:

Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God has overwhelmed (Elizabeth) with mercy, celebrated with her.

(Luke 1:58)

Overwhelmed with mercy by God.

The fulfillment of the promise God gave them. They would have a son.

But as with every part of this fascinating true story, there is yet another twist entering the action.

On the eighth day, the traditional day of circumcision & naming, the crowd began to call the baby after his father, Zachariah. A normal and honoring tradition, I am sure Zachariah, already moved by the whole scenario, loved hearing it. Any father who had waited so long to have a son would have too.

Yet Elizabeth spoke up and proclaimed, as they were told by the angel, the baby was to be named John.

The puzzled crowd wondered at that, as it was a break with tradition. Since this was anything but a traditional birth, it leaves you shaking your head at why… but then they take it one step further:

They decided to use sign language to communicate with an unable to speak Zachariah!

People, he was dumbfounded into not being able to speak, NOT DEAF. I am sure Zachariah was inwardly rolling his eyes or fuming, because I know I would be, but he determinedly grabs a tablet and writes out “His name is John” for all to see.

Still reeling from the shock of the name of choice not being the father’s name, imagine the crowd’s reaction when Zachariah suddenly regains his speech, and begins by praising God!

At that final sight of the night…

A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, ‘What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.’

This promise became full blown news that night!

At some point soon after, Zachariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesized over John as the prophet to prepare the way for Messiah. (Luke 1:67-79)

This would have added a bit more fuel to the flames of the birth of John story

And Mary? Mary soon after returned back home. I suspect her mother or aunt was also likely at John’s birth, due to the wonder of the event. An aged couple passed their prime gives birth.

The last time that happened, it was to the forerunners of God’s people, Abraham & Sarah. And Israel came to be, born in the promise of Isaac.

This time, the miracle happened to the relatives of that family tree, Zachariah & Elizabeth. and John came to be, born to herald the promised Messiah!

I can hardly wait for the story to continue on Saturday with the final direct major player of this exciting drama.

But first, I am going to have a little fun tomorrow before we move on!

Until then, let’s keep wondering anew at the wonder contained in the #AdventuresinAdvent we have read so far!


image from: the birth of John

trusting His timing

Mary’s story continues on in Luke, and overlaps that of Elizabeth…

We pick up the story with a newly pregnant Mary immediately leaving to go visit her cousin Mary, who is now 6 months pregnant.

Elizabeth has only just recently returned home, as the Bible tells us she went off on her own for 5 months to enjoy her pregnancy after waiting so many years to become pregnant.

Now Mary would have taken a bit to get from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah, but as the Romans had been busy building roads, she likely might have had a quicker journey as a result.

Either way, the story tells us she went straight to Zachariah’s house & greeted Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39)

And that’s when this adventure takes an unusual twist….

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb (John) leaped. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and sang out exuberantly…

Luke 1:40

I don’t know about you, but when I say hi to a relative, I don’t usually expect them to break out in prophetic song in response! But since we already know this is an unusual time orchestrated by a fantastic God, a little exuberance isn’t that unexpected!

Elizabeth, as told via Holy Spirit, blesses Mary as the mother of her Lord, Messiah. Not only that, but also tells her how Mary was a

blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!


Other than God, at this point no one else knew Mary was pregnant. The first thing she did was leave to visit Elizabeth.

Which considering the miracle taking place in her life, made sense Mary would want to be with someone else living out a dream like miracle!

The wonder of Elizabeth knowing her news without Mary saying a word, leads Mary to praise God in a beautiful passage (Luke 1:46-55)

She knew the miracle taking place- not only was Israel’s delivered coming, but she had been given the honor to bear the Messiah!

God chose well, did He not?

This section in Luke 1 closes with vs 56…a bit of a teaser for what is to come in the continuation of Elizabeth & Zachariah’s part of the Advent adventure:

Mary stays for 3 months.

If you were paying attention, Mary arrived when Elizabeth was 6 month’s pregnant.

My guess is Mary stayed for the birth. I believe she would have been encouraged to see Elizabeth’s miracle unfold before her, and it would have given her increased hope that God was watching out for her own future.

#TheMaryChronicles will return on Friday, after we officially meet the next addition to the #AdventuresofAdvent!


Preparing the Way- Luke

Luke begins the Advent story with a miraculous conception, but not the one you may be thinking of!

Zachariah was a priest, married to Elizabeth. Luke tells us they lived honorably before the Lord. They never had children, and were now passed their prime.

Sound familiar? (echoes of Abraham & Sarah….)

Anyhow, Zachariah got chosen to do a once in a lifetime opportunity for the priests, to burn incense in the sanctuary of God, the Holy of Holies. As he began to perform his duty, an angel appeared, freaking Zachariah out.

The angel didn’t just show up to be seen, but was sent with good news. Zachariah & Elizabeth were going to have a child, a boy they were to name John, who would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth & herald the arrival of God-with-us. His job would be to help get the people ready for God.

Wow! Awesome news, right?

Zachariah had a hard time accepting Gabriel’s news. As a result, God struck him dumb until it all came to pass, as He has prepared.

It became apparent when Zachariah left the temple that he had seen a vision…but he couldn’t speak, except for some hand gestures.

Zachariah went home to his wife, and surprise! Guess who became pregnant!

Elizabeth was so delighted, she went off by herself for five months to enjoy her pregnancy.

The same gift, with two difference responses.

The first immediately questioned, the second responded with delight.

When God prepares the way, we need to prepare ourselves to receive the gifts & blessings He has in store for us.

We will revisit Elizabeth a little later this month, as more people are added to this family drama we are unpacking as we work our way through the gospels.

Adventures in Advent may appear to have taken a detour, but this was all a part of God’s plan….

I can’t wait to keep unwrapping the layers again tomorrow!