I smile as I read that Luke wants to write an orderly account. As if organising it will make it seem less random. Words help us take control! But the starts of things are often like this, seemingly unrelated events and yet God starting in motion the most important events since the beginning of time, not starting with anyone grand or heroic, but with three very ordinary people.
I’m writing this as Scotland slowly comes out or lockdown and lockdown has in reality been anything but orderly, our family life is definitely not orderly, a feeling in the news of governments making it up as we go along! And even when this is all in the recent past, the capacity for those who hold power to re-word reality to justify themselves is breathtaking!
In our passage The Reality is on His way, He’s coming, says Luke, and while it was certainly divinely organised in the heavenly places, it would not have felt like that to Elizabeth, Zechariah or Mary. Luke is keen to emphasise the Plan of Salvation and his readers in Rome would have enjoyed accounts of history and battles written in a genre that celebrates the hero, Luke does this too both in his gospel and in the book of Acts with Jesus and his followers demonstrating the heroism that Luke’s readers in Rome were certainly going to need.
I’m struck by the back-story to 1.5-7, Zechariah and Elizabeth good people struggling, blameless but barren, a recurring theme through God’s walk with the world, springs in the desert, beauty for ashes!
What would Zechariah have thought? It was HIS moment, once in a lifetime Holy of Holies visit, HIS meeting with God, golden bells on his garment hem in case he died, it’s ironic that at the point when God actually speaks to him, he doesn’t believe it whereas Elizabeth does immediately! I thank God once again that His love story with the world is full of people making mistakes, acting foolishly and grace which abounds and abounds.
Ideas about meaning and timing continue from our last two readings and without God both the suffering and the pain are meaningless, but with him the fear of barrenness and the scandal of an unmarried pregnancy are borne. God in control exalts the humble, God in control enables us to say “May it be to me as you have said.”
God of the chaos made up of challenges and tragedies: infertility, unplanned pregnancy, broken relationships and our disobedience and failures. We love that You transform disaster into salvation. We love that salvation comes not just from angel armies at Your command but also through the obedience of ordinary people including an elderly auntie and a teenage Mum. Thank you that You glorify Your name and forgive our foolishness and mistakes here on earth, that You are very near, that You touched the earth and submitted to what seemed to be the greatest disaster on Calvary for us and because of us! Amen.