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My Thoughts: Christmas is for all ages

It’s hard to live in someone else’s shadow. Few people can name more than two or three vice-presidents. Almost no fan knows the name of the linemen who make holes for the million-dollar backs to scamper through, or the second-string quarterbacks who back up the stars.

When it comes to being overshadowed in the Bible, consider Elizabeth and Zechariah. The Christmas drama puts Mary and Joseph on the marquee. Featured also would be Herod at his wily worst, three Eastern wise men, a group of shepherds, and an anonymous innkeeper. Only end credits might include, “Also starring Elizabeth and Zechariah.”

Elizabeth and Zechariah were the parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah and Elizabeth were past their prime in years. Most of us would not like the term the King James Version uses to describe their senior citizen status. It says they were “well stricken in years.” Some of you might see it that way, but most of you would not. Some are indeed “stricken” with age. But most of you handle it well and are a bright example to those around you.

Zechariah was an older priest who ministered in a little village in the hill country of Judea. There were 20,000 priests like him in Israel and each year one division of priests got to do a two-week stint in the Temple of Jerusalem. One priest, chosen by lottery, would get the opportunity to make the sacrifice. The priest entered the holy darkness of the inner Temple, spread coals on the altar, and sprinkled incense on it. As the smoke began to rise and fragrance filled the air, the gathered throng outside would know that God hears prayers.

This particular year Zechariah won the coin toss. As he entered the Temple, he was greeted by a voice with shocking news. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son,” it said, “and you will call his name John!”

“You’re putting me on!” was his reaction. “We’re too old for this. We’re not even in midlife. We’re in later life.”

Then suddenly Zechariah could not speak. Luke said it was because of his unbelief. It might also have been that he had a stroke— some people would if they got that kind of news at 65...or even 45. So, Zechariah emerged from the holy place dazed and mute. His one opportunity to deliver the main sermon at the Temple and he can’t utter a word!