December 5, 2012

Spring is not in sight

By Luke Gascho, director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:68-79 (NRSV)
DEVOTIONAL:

My garden has grown silent. The approach of winter leaves little evidence of what had once been a flourishing array of vegetable plants. The shortened days – with the sun hanging low in the sky – do not supply the energy needed for gardening. As I walk around the garden, there are not clear indicators to tell me that there will be a new season. Instead the hope is within me. It is the remembrance of the consistent cycling of the four seasons. Spring will come!

In today’s passage, Zechariah speaks to us out of his period of silence. As a priest, he hoped for a Redeemer. He, along with his community members, longed for a new day – a day that would turn the tables of the empire upside down. But there was little evidence that liberation from the dark night would occur. He and his wife, Elizabeth, weren’t sure that there would even be a next generation in their family lines. Even with a visionary promise from the angel Gabriel, Zechariah did not believe that change would come to their plight. Spring was not in sight.

I imagine the many questions, doubts and hopes that ran through Zechariah’s mind during the nine months of waiting that followed the visionary experience. The silence must have consumed his whole being. But it is clear that hope was an emergent factor during this time of waiting. By the time his son was born, he was ready to act on what had been percolating in his soul. He boldly stepped out and called his son, “John.” Then he spoke the prophetic words that we read today. The new season filled with salvation, forgiveness, dawn, light and peace has come!

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:68-79 (NRSV)
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour 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.’

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Comments (7)

  1. Thanks Luke….I appreciated this morning’s “message”. Bless you in your good work at GC.

    Ora Troyer December 5, 2012 |
  2. Thank you for the message, Luke. It hit home with me even though our winter gardens are still out in the open and producing. For us, the springtime comes in the form of a full-time farmer hire that looks like it will work out well. I pray so.

    We love getting the newsletters and following up. Our progress is not exactly slow, but it is stop-and-start and hope is all the more precious in those stops.

    Blessings to you, brother,

    John (in Atlanta)

    John Wierwille December 5, 2012 |
  3. Thank you. A word I needed to hear today. I’d never really thought about Zechariah’s long silence – only it’s dramatic onset and conclusion. God bless you and the Goshen community.

    Lisa Selph December 5, 2012 |
  4. Thank you, Luke. Prophetic words – from Zechariah and from you!

    Rachel Nafziger Hartzler December 5, 2012 |
  5. ZECHARIAH taught us real patience that I dont usually have1 thanks God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bob December 5, 2012 |
  6. I so appreciated your words. Especially when you point out though there may be no evidence of sub-soil garden activity our hope comes from within us. And isn’t that what constitutes faith?

    Phyllis Giglio December 5, 2012 |
  7. Thank you for the insight today. I will not look at my silent garden again without thinking of this passage and the patience it takes to wait for things not seen.

    Jan December 5, 2012 |