Luke 1:19-21 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.
And the whole congregation waited, twice a day a priest would enter the holy place to light the incense offering, and then come out and offer the prayer for the people. Usually it was the kind of thing you could set your watch to, it always took about the same time, then the prayer and the blessing, and then to the business of the day. That was in the morning, at the end of the day, before going home, the faithful might again stop by the temple, for once again, there was an incense offering, and again the priest would come out, offer the prayer for the people, and a blessing. It was always that way, except for this time, the priest had gone in, by he didnít come out, he was delayed, and the only thing that the people could do is wonder, had something happened? Was something wrong with the offering, was God angry, had something happened to Zechariah? It was no idle curiosity, for if God didnít accept the sacrifice, then God wasnít angry only with the priest, but with all the people, including those waiting there, the faithful who had come again for prayer, and for the blessing.
Its not that much different now, although there are no priests, no altar and no incense, at least not here. But the faithful still continue to gather to hear Godís word, for prayer, and to receive a blessing. We may take it for granted that it will be done at the appointed time. And we come so that we can continue to hear that we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ. Things are still the same, for if things last longer than usual, we might begin to feel a bit uncomfortable. But we have no holy place, we are even in danger of having no awe at coming into the presence of God. We may not even be able to imagine the pastor taking our gifts to the altar, and then Ö. then nothing, but everything stops, except time, as we wait to learn what is happening.
Imagine if you will that after the longest while, that the pastor would turn around, but he could no longer talk, and by means of gestures, would indicate to us that he had seen a vision. These things donít happen, but if they did, we would be forewarned that God was at work in our midst in a way that was most uncommon. And we would be left to wonder as to what this would mean, as there was no one to explain to us what had happened. All that could be done, is to wait and see. And yet, the faithful might remember a scripture which said "the Lord whom you seek suddenly coming to the temple, even the messenger of the covenant".
Could this be a sign that the long awaited salvation of God was about to break into these lives? All that could be done is to wait and see. But not the wait and see, which is indifferent and which really doesnít care. Rather it was a wait and see, rooted in faith and hope in the promise of God, that perhaps this was the time that the salvation of God would come, perhaps this was a sign pointing to the coming of a Messiah. And so the people of faith, as they have in all times, hold the promise of God in hope, eager to see God at work, and to receive the long promised salvation, and with it forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and the peace of God which lasts forever.
For the good news is spoken, and the people of faith receive it with hope and thanksgiving. The good news is spoken, but not all receive it with thanksgiving, some receive it with doubt and suspicion, some receive it questioning all the while, and while it remains good news, in may not seem so to them at the time.
For Zechariah who did not believe the angels message of good news, it was a mixed day, he had been in the holy place, he had seen an angel, he had received a promise, and he had been struck dumb, and would remain dumb until he would see that the words spoken come to pass. One cannot help but remember doubting Thomas, and Jesus words on that occasion, blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe. And so may we receive the word of promise, that the Savior is coming, and wait in faith and in hope, preparing ourselves for his coming, and reaching out to others, to let them know that the Savior of the world is coming. May we always be glad and rejoice in the salvation that is ours by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.