It seems appropriate that we share part of the birth story of John the Baptist—Jesus’ forerunner—on Christ the King Sunday, which ends the Christian year. Today we get a glimpse of Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist.

In the lead-up to today’s reading, we learn that Zechariah, a priest, has been met by the angel Gabriel, who announces that Elizabeth will bear a son named John. Zechariah does not believe the angel immediately, and so he cannot speak again until the child is born. For nine months, Zechariah has not been able to verbalize his thoughts and feelings.

Many of us can relate to Zechariah. Those of us who are leaders in the church might be mute and not even know it. We might have denied, not believed, or not proclaimed God’s promises. There is so much happening in our world today wherein the church largely has remained silent. Have we been silenced for our unbelief or denial? Has the church lost its prophetic voice? Or is the church mute today on purpose?

Eight days after Elizabeth has given birth and the time to name her child has come, Zechariah still cannot speak. He writes that the child should be named John. Only then, after completing the angel’s directive, can Zechariah speak. He immediately begins to praise God. After his time of silence, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah and he speaks the prophecy in today’s reading.

If we have been silent because of our unbelief or denial of God’s promises, let us reflect on these divine promises with new intentionality. With God-given courage, let us discern a new focus on God and what God wants us to say when we finally break our silence.

God, when given the moment and pivotal opportunity to speak again, may we too be filled with praise and a prophetic message from you that will resonate with your people and proclaim your promises. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 23:33-43

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Lectionary Week
November 18–24, 2019
Scripture Overview

Our readings for the week highlight the Reign of Christ. Jeremiah prophesies about a future King from the line of David who will bring justice, righteousness, and security for the people of God. Luke 1 records the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah praises God for raising up salvation from the house of David as God had promised through the prophets. This child will bring mercy, forgiveness, and light. Luke 23 recounts part of the story of the death of Jesus. Here Jesus, the Light of the world, dies as an act of mercy for our forgiveness. In Colossians, Christ holds first place above everything else. Through his death we are forgiven and brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. How do you trust in God’s promises to bring safety and justice as you watch unjust rulers oppress and abandon their followers?
Read Luke 1:68-79. What will you say when you break your silence?
Read Colossians 1:11-20. Recall a time when you waited for something in great anticipation. How did your faith help you find patience?
Read Luke 23:33-43. How do you recognize Christ as King when you experience or witness suffering?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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