Dramatic Reading of Luke 1:68-79

December 10, 2000
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

        Listen, people, to the story of the birth of John the Baptist, the prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. This tale begins with an older, childless couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth. He was a priest who, as was the custom, came to Jerusalem periodically to take his turn serving in the Temple. She was an important person herself and, as it so happened, was also a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus (but thatís another story).
        Zechariah was on duty in the Temple one day, alone in the Holy of Holies, the innermost room where offerings were made to God. There he met face to face with the angel Gabriel. This messenger told him that he would soon have a son who, as a prophet, would prepare Godís people for something new to happen, turning their hearts and lives toward the Lord. Now, Zechariah was frightened, as you would be also, meeting an angel. Gabriel told Zechariah two more things. First, he was to name this boy "John." Second, until that moment of naming, Zechariah would be unable to speak.
        Well, what Gabriel promised - happened. Elizabeth conceived and give birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives were pretty excited about the whole thing, though they wondered about Zechariahís silence. The time came for the baby to be circumcised and given a name, and everybody thought they were going to name him "Zechariah" after his father. But Elizabeth said, "No, he is to be called John."
        People wondered what was going on, after all, none of their relatives had this name. They turned to Zachariah, wondering if he agreed. He motioned for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And all of them were amazed. Furthermore, Zechariahís mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

        "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
                for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
                        He has raised up a mighty savior for us
                                in the house of his servant David,
                                        as he spoke through the mouth
                                                of his holy prophets from of old,
                                that we would be saved from our enemies
                                                and from the hand of all who hate us.
                Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
                        and has remembered his holy covenant,
                                the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
                                        to grant us that we,
                                being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
                                                might serve him without fear,
                                                        in holiness and righteousness
                                                                before him all our days.
                And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
                        for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
                                to give knowledge of salvation to his people
                                        by the forgiveness of their sins.
                        By the tender mercy of our God,
                                the dawn from on high will break upon us,
                                        to give light to those who sit in darkness
                                                                            and in the shadow of death,
                                        to guide our feet into the way of peace."

        Their child grew and became strong in spirit. Later, he became a prophet, called "John the Baptist," He prepared the way in the wilderness for the coming of someone greater than he was - the Messiah Jesus.

Zechariah's portion is from the New Revised Standard Version,
©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

Narrator's portion ©2000 Peter L. Haynes

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