Luke 1:63-64, 68 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people,

The two hardest things for children to do, are to sit still and to keep quiet. Many things are hard, but I think these two are the hardest. Two reasons account for the difficulty, one is that children have lots of energy, its something they need to grow; but it is also something they must learn to control. Its kind of like lightening, they say there is enough energy in a lightning bolt to power an entire city for a day, but it is our of control, and is of not much use. Children learn to sit still, as it is part of the discipline that helps them to channel their energy in useful and productive ways and so they learn to do their work sitting still.

The other thing we teach children is that there are times when they are not to speak. The chief reason is that it is very difficult to listen while you are also talking, and much of our learning occurs as we listen. Why is it so hard to keep silent? First, you might forget what you wanted to say. Second, is when you are learning, it is natural to want to share the good things you learn. Finally, when you are learning new words, you want to experiment on how to use them.

And if it is hard for children to keep silent, it is also hard for adults as well. We use our voices often each day, and the substitutes are not very handy, and do not work on the telephone. Just ask someone who has lost their voice, its a hard thing. In our lesson tonight, Zechariah lost his voice, actually, he did not loose it, but God took it from him. You see, Zechariah did not believe what the angel spoke to him, He questioned the message from God. And so God took his voice as a sign, and when the promised event came to pass God gave it back.

Now Zechariah was a priest, thatís kind of like a pastor, and so his voice was important to his work. Zechariah was also old, and so was his wife. The Angel told Zechariah that his wife was going to have a baby, something which Zechariah thought impossible. And so it was that for 9 months Zechariah had no voice. No talking, and paper was expensive. Can you imagine what it would be like not to talk for 9 months, why thatís a whole school year. Well his wife got pregnant, and after 9 months a son was born, just like God had promised. In those days baby boys were circumcised on the 8th day, at that time they were given names. And when it came time to give the name to the child, Zechariah took a tablet and wrote, His name is John. Then God gave Zechariah his voice, now its been 9 months since you could say a word. What is the first thing you would say?

Some pretty amazing things had happened. Not many see angels. Not many people get personal messages from God. Not many people have children when they are old, and it seemed impossible, why the only other person in the Bible like this was Abraham. Abraham believed the messenger from God (although Sarah laughed). Abrahamís son was a very special person, he was the father of both the Israel and the Arabs of Edom; 2 nations. As Abrahamís son was important, so Zechariahís son also would be important, he would not be the father of nations, he would prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, for the Messiah would soon be coming.

But back to the question, what would be the first thing you would say, after 9 months, if you were Zechariah? Several years ago when I lost my voice, the first thing I said, was, it sure feels good to be able to talk again. But Zechariah had something better to say - He praised God! He wasnít angry with God for taking his voice, but he praised God. Why? God had kept his promise, Zechariah had a son, and the Messiah was coming, and John would prepare the way.

Now perhaps the reason why Zechariahís words are most remembered is not because he had 9 months to plan them out, the reason why they are remembered is that God sent the Holy Spirit to Zechariah, and the Holy Spirit gave Zechariah the words to speak. So Zechariahís words, are also Godís Word.

Luke 1:68-73 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
And so it was that Christmas came, and we learn that sometimes good things happen and you canít say a word. It is good that children learn to be silent, otherwise how can they hear the wonder of the Christmas story, and of the great things God has done for us in Jesus Christ. But it is also good to tell the Christmas story, and the good news of the promised salvation which is now come.