This Week's Story

How can you believe Elizabeth and Zechariah's fantasy?

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Zechariah: What do the neighbors see? part three

My husband overheard me talking about our neighbors Elizabeth and Zechariah. That night he said quietly, “I hope you are not becoming a gossip.”

“You would be talking about them, Josh, if you knew what I know!”

That was his opportunity to quiz me, but as usual he didn’t. A few days later he surprised me, “Miriam, the guys at work say that Elizabeth had a baby. Aren’t she and Zechariah in their eighties?”

“Yes, they are elderly. What has happened to them is extraordinary! Joshua, Elizabeth told me that her husband Zechariah cannot talk anymore. He wrote that the angel Gabriel visited him in the temple. You probably think Zechariah had a dream he cannot forget. I am not going to argue with you. I realize neither you or I have had visits from angels.

“The angel announced to Zechariah that Elizabeth would have a child who is to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. When Zechariah returned home, Elizabeth became pregnant.

“I wish you could see her. She smiles and sings as she is working. Her heavy burden of disappointment and disgrace for having no children is gone! She knows the angel instructed Zechariah, “Name the child John. He will convince many people to turn to the Lord. When he is inside Elizabeth’s womb, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“Miriam, how can you believe such fantasy? Do you want to be a religious lunatic?”

“Josh, you may think your logic is the final word, but Elizabeth was pregnant. I saw her body thicken and her stomach get larger and larger. I have observed that since Gabriel spoke to Zechariah at the temple, he cannot talk. The angel told him, ‘Zechariah, you will not be able to talk until your baby is born, because you did not believe the child’s birth was possible.’

“Elizabeth’s young cousin Mary visited her for three months. Before she came Gabriel also appeared to her and told her that the Holy Spirit would miraculously cause her to be pregnant. The child would be God’s son. Mary was and is a virgin. She says, ‘I am willing to accept whatever God wants.’

“You can call this story ridiculous, but there is proof, Josh, that your eyes could see. I have seen enough to know that God is at work.

“Let me tell you more. When Mary walked into her cousin’s house, Elizabeth said that she felt her baby, the baby inside her, jump with joy. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed, ‘What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me!’

“Then Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit and began singing a song in beautiful poetic form. Listen, Joshua, I know some of the words.

‘How I rejoice in God my Savior!

For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,

and now generation after generation

will call me blessed.

For he, the Mighty One, is holy,

and he has done great things for me.’

“Josh, of course, the guys at your work are talking about all this. Zechariah is a priest, a public figure. His and Elizabeth’s baby was born last week. Tomorrow is the circumcision ceremony and the baby will be named.”

This is Barbara Steiner anticipating the ceremony. The neighbors, Miriam and Joshua, were added to the story. The rest is based on the biblical account in Luke of the Bible.

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