I love the Christmas song, “Do you hear what I hear?”
Some people can only think of the late Bing Crosby when they hear this tune.
This song was written by Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne, (who also wrote…Rain, Rain, go away…go figure). in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis. The song was actually a powerful plea for peace by a man who had experienced the horrors of war. Peace was in high demand then, as it is now.
A little bit about Noel Regney
- French born, but drafted into the German army
- Hated the Nazis who occupied his land
- While fighting for Germany he became a part of the French underground (SPY). Led the Germans’s into a trap with the French, but still felt guilty about it, as he was well aware of human tragedy in that moment.
- After escaping and living underground until the war was over, he became a musical director on the Radio and in Clubs.
- Moved to Manhattan in 1952.
- Met and Married Gloria.
- They wrote music together. She lyrics, he music, except for this song.
Noel said about this song, “I am amazed that people can think they know this song and not know it is a prayer for peace”
Who would’ve known all this about a Christmas Carol?
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Was Noel & Gloria’s plea. They want to know if their listeners, were as concerned as they were. Are we as passionate as they were for peace?
We want to ask the same question this advent season. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
Are you attentive to what is going on around you? Are you attentive to God’s voice in the midst of it?
Are you aware of the brokenness? Are you aware of God’s presence in the midst of it?
Are you listening to what God is saying, in, and into, the real matters of this world?
Do you HEAR HIS voice…today?
I can imagine characters in the Biblical Narrative, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc, saying…Did you Hear that? Did you catch what God just did? Did you catch what Jesus just said? (NT)
Did you hear what I heard?
Over the next 3 weeks we’re going to walk through Luke 1.
We want to hear what they heard.
We want to see what they saw.
And we want to discover how we can hear God’s voice, just as clearly as they did.
Why? Because if we’re not careful, our ears will be filled with noise that doesn’t help us at all.
“Who ever has access to your ear, has access to your life.”
The question is: will you turn down the noise, and turn up the volume?
For this, we look at 3 characters that ‘heard from God’.
I want to learn what they heard, and I want to hear what God is saying to me today?
First up? ZECHARIAH!
Luke is a story teller who sets up the story well.
Know that we’ll eventually get to Jesus, but first, the preliminaries.
Let’s read through this story and see what we learn…what we HEAR!
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Zechariah was a priest & Elizabeth was from a priestly family. Both lived according to the law and lived good lives (righteous). We learn here that Elizabeth could not have children…and that they are both…older.
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week.
Twice a year a priest would come to Jerusalem for his turn to serve. They’d live and serve as priests where they were, but came to the temple twice a year. (not company training days:)
9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.
Now…this didn’t happen to every priest. It was a once in a lift time opportunity. They were chosen by lot; kind of like drawing straws. Who ever got the ‘unique’ piece from what they chose, was chosen to go into the inner sanctuary.
The chances were slim to have this opportunity. Like my chances of winning anything…very slim (anyone else with me?).
While inside, his duty was to burn incense.
10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
This caused a bit of drama. People waiting for Zechariah to complete his duty. They were praying…worshiping…waiting. Such an advent thing to do…wait & pray
11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.
Zechariah wouldn’t have been expecting this. Maybe he thought that this is what happens on the ‘inside’. But he definitely wouldn’t expect it.
What’s a normal response to an angel sneaking up on you? Fear & trembling! Freaking out a little.
Then comes the words…the message!
13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
This is amazing. Zechariah & Elizabeth have been praying for years. And God tells them they will have a son. Not just any son, but John the Baptist. Your son will prepare the way for others to receive Jesus; to receive God into their lives. He will get others ready for God’s ARRIVAL!
Can’t imagine what that responsibility felt like, we can hardly get ready to receive company, making sure things are in order for people to arrive. John was getting Israel, the world, us, ready to receive Jesus.
This is the first of Luke’s layers that lead us to Jesus.
GOD. Through an angel. Speaks to Zechariah.
Zechariah. Listens to this message from God.
Think about this for a second. The message is of course amazing and life changing. For him, for Israel, and for the world.
But the shear fact that it’s GOD speaking to him. WOW.
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
Can’t spend too much time here, but Zechariah gets snubbed. His mouth is shut. Doubt creeps in.
Who do you know that you wish this would happen to? (HA)
What would we learn if you couldn’t speak? If you could only listen?
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary. 23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
What an Amazing way for Luke to start his gospel. If you know a bit of the OT, you’ll recognize a theme here…older married couples having children…more importantly, miracles of birth and new life, when all hope was essentially given up.
– – – – – – –
So many things to take away from this first episode in Luke’s gospel; let’s focus on a few.
Are you willing to listen to God’s voice? When you’re ready or not?
– Zechariah may have been a priest, but this was not something he saw coming.
– In your everyday life, routine, rhythm, if God speaks, will you actually hear what he has to say?
Will you push through the noise and clutter, to hear what God has to say?
– What might be in the way of you hearing God’s voice?
– Is it noise? It is you? Does there have to be an adjustment of sorts? Noise down, Volume up?
Will you take or make time to be attentive?
– I find advent to be a great opportunity to centre ourselves. Reading/Prayer/Worship.
– From now until Christmas…what is your plan? (we have a reading guide, check it out)
God speaks to us…to work in us…or to work through us.
Remember this: “Who ever has access to your ear, has access to your life.”