It is not your ordinary working day. Zechariah goes to the temple to carry out his priestly duties and is greeted by an angel who tells him he and Elizabeth will have a son in their old age. “You will name him John,” and he will “turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.” Because he questioned the power of God to bring this about (as I would too!) the angel struck him mute.
Elizabeth was happy. Her pregnancy took away the disgrace of her barrenness. Her neighbours and relatives rejoiced with her upon hearing “that God had shown his great mercy to her.”
Circumcision, the time to name John, arrived eight days after he was born. Zechariah was still mute. Elizabeth said his name would be John when, according to custom, he should be named Zechariah. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately Zechariah’s tongue was freed and he prophesied concerning his son.
Like many prophets before him, the meaning of John’s name is also his message: “God is gracious.” God who was gracious to Zechariah, Elizabeth, and through John to the whole world, is gracious to you and me, naming us for eternity, whether it was an ordinary working day or not.
Empower me, great God of grace, to honour your name with mine. Amen. — RH