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Slow to speak, quick to listen

Saturday, December 23, 2000

Luke 1:64-65
Immediately Zechariah's mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.

In those few months of enforced silence, Zechariah learned more about God and especially about himself than he did in the entire rest of his life. He was the man with the answers; and the people around him, his congregation, saw him as their connection with God. Now, his own wisdom silenced and humbled, in awe himself, Zechariah's spirit was softened and opened to the wisdom of the Lord.

Everywhere I went today, people were friendly, outgoing, bright. I found myself thinking about the people of Judea, talking to each other with a new attitude, with fear, with awe, with excitement, about the news from Zechariah and Elizabeth. We are so accustomed to Christmas, with all its trappings and omnipresence, but in spite of that most of us experience some fear, some awe, some excitement every year.

I love the music and laughter and conversation, but I am overcome with joy and wonder in the silences that accompany Christmas. This year the snow is everywhere, muffling the everyday sounds of the city. The air has been icy and crisp, night stars shining very bright, the blackness of the sky utterly still. My body stills itself within this heavenly silence. I breathe deeply in this air filled with God, close my eyes and receive the peace of the Lord, the peace which passes all understanding.

Lord, you are the God of the day and the night. We live emotional roller coaster lives, and you are with us at every moment. When I speak or when I'm silent, Lord, quicken my awareness of your presence.

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