(A poetic reflection on Luke 1:57-66, for December 23, 2022)
I’ve always appreciated
that Luke included a family argument
in his telling of the story
of the naming of John the Baptist.
The relatives were not expecting what happened.
Everyone came to the ceremony, it seems,
expecting Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son
to be named “Little Zach,”
…something like that, anyway.
Of course Zechariah was not yet able to speak again,
and it was clear that the family
was interpreting his muteness
as silent assent…
until he picked up that writing tablet.
There it was…in big block letters.
“His name is John.”
So much for tradition.
I’m sure there was an audible gasp in the room.
What does this change in plans mean?
Does it mean he won’t be following in his father’s footsteps?
Does it mean he’s not going to be a priest?
Does it mean the child isn’t his?
Oh, I’m sure tongues were wagging
once the statement was made.
I’m sure Elizabeth tried to explain
that she and Zechariah
had their reasons…
but she was clearly getting nowhere
with the kinfolk and close friends
until Zechariah wrote it out
in plain sight.
I am reminded
that sometimes we hold tradition too tightly
and when we do
we prevent our hands
from holding something better.
Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, Mo., and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, Mo.