CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
December 4, 2022
I am speechless!
Have you ever had something happen that left you speechless? Has someone ever said something to you that for one reason or another left you speechless? What we read this morning is talking about the first of several events that changed the course of the world forever. We are told of a husband and wife that were truly committed to God that had been unable to have children. They were getting up in years to the point it was unlikely, if not seemingly impossible, to expect they would even have children of their own. But when Zechariah’s division was to serve the Lord in the temple something amazing, something unbelievable happened. For one thing the Lord made sure Zechariah would go alone into the most Holy Place in the temple. Then when alone in the most Holy Place an angel of the Lord was there with him. We read Zechariah was startled and then gripped with fear, but the angel assured Zechariah he had nothing to fear and proceeded to tell him of things that were about to happen to him and his wife. The angel knew his wife’s name and told him not only that a son would be born to them, but what his name is to be and what he would mean to the Jewish people. Their son would be a powerful servant of the Lord that would draw many back to God. The one interesting thing the angel said was that his name should be John, which would be different from what Jewish tradition would have expected of a first-born son. Zechariah’s only question of all this was one that most of us would thing is logical. He asked, “How can I be sure of this?” After all, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth had been praying for years to have a child and when that time had seemingly come and gone, they are being told it was going to happen.
How many of you when you have been wide awake have ever had a conversation with an angel of God? Maybe some of us may have had some sort of dream or vision but a real conversation when wide awake with an angel is not an every day event, even for the most righteous of people. I am pretty sure Zechariah had never had such an event happen ever before. So most anyone would question, how can I be sure this will happen? Then the angel went on to tell Zechariah his name and exactly how connected to God he was. Gabriel, God’s angel, went on to say, “Because you have doubted, you will be unable to speak until the birth of your son occurs.”
Apparently, Zechariah was in this Holy Place in the temple longer than normal and the people waiting outside began to wonder what was taking him so long. Finally, Zechariah came out but as Gabriel had promised he was unable to make a sound when he tried to speak. The people knew something special must have happened but were unable to figure out exactly what it was. Zechariah returned home to his wife and whether he tried to help his wife know what had happened or just waited to see if what he had been told by Gabriel came true, we are not really told. The fact is, things did happen exactly as Zechariah had been told and the events that would soon change the world had begun.
Last week we read in Isaiah of a promise made by God to the Jewish people. Now 700 years later the first events that would see that promise fulfilled was starting to happen. Just a reminder, most of you probably already know it was a very big mark against a husband and wife back at this time if you were unable to have children. It was believed that at least one of you must have done something really bad for God not to allow you to have children. That is why Elizabeth said what she said in verse 25, “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” What seemed to be impossible at this late stage in Zechariah and Elizabeth’s life was about to miraculously happen. In many ways even if God had not prevented Zechariah from being able to speak it is quite possible he would have been speechless anyway. Would you have been brave enough to tell those around you what you had been told by an angel? Would they have made fun of him? Would they have called him crazy? After all, they knew how physical bodies worked back then then just like today. In many ways it is not surprising that he was speechless about what had happened to him while he was in this most Holy Place in the temple.
What about you and me? At the very beginning of this message, I asked the question, “Have you even been speechless about anything that happened to you or someone you loved?” If so, what made that event so unique it left you speechless? What do you think you would have one if you had been in Zechariah's shoes? Would you have acted any differently than Zechariah did? In the world we live in today I could almost see some saying to the angel, “No it is too late in our lives to raise a child, I do not want this now.” Ten or fifteen years ago would have been fine maybe, even 5 years ago, but we are too old now so forget about it. Do you think anyone might say something like that in today’s world? Thankfully Zechariah did not say that but was willing to see just what God would do. Our God is a God of miracles. Maybe they don’t seem to happen the way things happened during Bible times, but God is still working in the lives of His people and in His world every day. Sometimes we just need to have the faith and the spiritual eyes to see his hand at work today. This is viewed as the season of miracles. The first of those miracles occurred for two faithful people and in many ways probably went unnoticed at the time, but God is at work and began what we call the Christmas Season with a very innocent seeming miracle. Yes, most of us would have been speechless just like Zechariah was. Some of us probably would not have needed God to make us speechless. We would have been unwilling to say what we had been told by an “angel” because virtually no one would believe us. But today we celebrate the first of several miracles that God made happen that once again changed the course of the world forever. What a great God of love, mercy and forgiveness we have. Christmas, the time of miracles, is coming!
Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study
December 4 4:00 Christmas Vespers HERE
December 6 12:00 Women’s Luncheon—will reveal prayer partners; meat & drink provided; please bring a dish: A-H vegetable; K-S salad; T-W dessert. All women are invited.
December 14 Board Meeting
December 21 7:00 pm Christmas Service
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!
Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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Keep in Your Prayers
Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Jill McBride; Michelle West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Tate Sawyer; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus; healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library; Florida; Puerto Rico; La Place congregation
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Romine congregation near Salem in Marion County.
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.