Written by Steven Liechty
Quinn G. Caldwell
"[Zechariah] asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.' And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God." - Luke 1:57-66
So God tells Zechariah, who's really old, that he's about to have a son, and that he should name that son John. Zechariah doubts that he and his equally old wife are going to manage such a feat. God tells him he will be struck silent until the promise is fulfilled. When Elizabeth gives birth and people ask them what the name will be, John writes, "His name is John" on a tablet. Suddenly, his voice is freed. And his first words? One of the most beautiful songs of the Bible. The Benedictus, named for the Latin translation of its first word, later came to be recited at morning prayer by Christians the world round in the hopes that, by saying what Zechariah had said, their tongues too would be freed for praise each day.
Have you ever been silenced by what you didn't dare say aloud? And did you one day find enough strength or faith or dire need to say it? And when you said it, did you find yourself unlocked, your voice freed for prayer and praise, your life freed like a stone rolled away from a tomb?
What was it you said?
Was it, "I'm gay"?
"My husband hits me"?
"I love you"?
"I'm an alcoholic"?
"Will you marry me"?
"I'm not going to take it any more"?
"I believe in God"?
"Please forgive me"?
For Zechariah, it was, "His name is John." For Mary, it was, "I'm pregnant."
If you're haven't said yours yet, what are you waiting for?
Blessed be you, O God. Give me words like keys, and free my life for faith and praise. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.