Sermons
Sunday Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Proclaim Hope - November 26, 2017

Luke 1:5-25

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were from the priestly line of ancestors. Both had deep roots of serving God and God's people and Zechariah was anointed and appointed for this particular time in the most holy space of God. The scripture tells us that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God. They

lived blamelessly before ALL of the commandments and regulations of the Lord.
WOW. Some people think the virgin birth is the most unbelievable thing in the Bible, but I think this has that beat. Blameless before ALL the commandments AND regulations. They were righteous and blameless, BOTH of them. I think on any given day most of us would be guilty of violating at least one of the 10 commandments, let alone the other 600+ regulations of the Bible. And here Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless before ALL the laws and regulations. That's pretty amazing. I might even venture it's close to impossible. Now, I'm not doubting the Bible, but that in and of itself is impressive.
And here's the kicker, despite their faithfulness—they couldn't have a baby. I mean, we know it's not a real rule in the Bible that God blesses the righteous and punishes the unrighteous and everyone gets what they deserve. We know life isn't like that. BUT most of us at least kind of believe that's the way it should be. When someone we love gets cancer, we wonder what on earth they did to be punished. And when the jerk at work gets a promotion, we're inclined to think the system is broken and that it should have been the good guy who got the promotion instead. Right? So, somewhere, somehow, we bought into believing God gives "good for good" and "bad for bad". And yet, here are the best of the best in terms of righteousness and they've been getting the short end of the stick for years. And we can't help but think that's not fair. What we see is that it's not about simply being good in order to be blessed. Being blessed isn't about us and our righteousness, it's about God and God's goodness. And Zechariah and Elizabeth saw that. They were faithful and loved God despite their trials. They found reasons to be faithful and grateful despite heartache and loss. They prayed on behalf of others, not to get what was good for themselves, but because that's what you do. They didn't curse God or hate God, they sought God and had a certain peace about their circumstances.
In the scripture on this particular day, Zechariah went to work to serve the people. He would have had to prepare himself spiritually and physically for at least a month. He would have been assigned with a couple of other priests for that day of service and when it came down to it, they would have cast lots to see who would go into the holy of holies—-the place on earth where you could physically get closest to God. And it happened to be that Zechariah's lot won. He won the priestly lottery. Though they didn't count it as luck. They saw it as pure divine appointment—God wanted Zechariah there. So, he went into the holy of holies, the most sacred place in the temple, the dwelling place of God. And he began to pray and an angel appeared and told him their prayers had finally been answered, and Elizabeth would bear them a son. Zechariah asked a simple question, "How will we know? We're old now." But the angel's response implies the question sounded a little more like this, "Seriously?! Now? Dude, I'm old. We've been praying about this FOREVER and now seemed like a good idea? Why not 20 years ago? Heck, why not 10 years ago? Are you kidding me?!"
Of all times, of all things—God chose this moment, it just didn't seem likely, or even possible. Everyone knows old people don't have babies. And yet, for expressing that twinge of incredulity, Zechariah was punished. He's made mute—for the ENTIRE pregnancy. You want to scoff at God....oh buddy, you'll need to hold your tongue and see what God can do.
A couple of yeas ago I learned great empathy for Zechariah. I tend toward doubt, but I don't think I was being punished. What happened was that after I preached on a Sunday before Thanksgiving, my voice started to go and by Monday morning it was only a whisper. By Tuesday it was less than a whisper. And it just stayed gone. Day 3—no voice. Day 4—No voice. Day 5, I stopped counting, sort of....I was without a voice for a full 10 days. It was maddening not to be able to express myself. It was frustrating to play scherades with absolutely everyone. I had to try and give instructions to 3-year-olds in a museum. I practiced whistling and snapping my fingers to get their attention. And then I'd try signs like "walk" and "quiet" and "calm down". I tried to catch up with the family with no voice and only hand signs. Some people fared all right at lip reading and others failed miserable making it worthless to even try. And then there were others who thought it would be more fun to make ridiculous interpretations of my signs in order to get a laugh. And I just kept thinking, "I feel like Zechariah". And then I'd think, Good Lord, I hope this doesn't last for months. I don't think I couldn't even make it the month until Christmas. I wasn't able to do a whole lot, but what I was able to do was think and pray. And oddly enough, having my "real" voice on mute also quieted my mental voice, so I was more prone to listen to God.
And I imagine Zechariah was too. He would have come out of the holy of holies so excited about what the angel shared and yet unable to communicate any of it. The scripture says he tried to motion to the people
Think about it: (signing)

· Praying
· Angel
· Shining glory
· Don't be afraid
· Pregnant
· Asked how—they were old
· God
· Questioned
· Took his voice
They couldn't understand him. The people were guessing, but all they knew was that he had had a vision. And all the while Zechariah knew that the pregnancy itself wasn't the greatest part—even more profound was the prophecy about the child.
· He will be great in the sight of the Lord
· He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he's born
· He will turn many of the people of Israel to their God
· He will have the spirit and power of Elijah
· He will be a great prophet
· His words will restore relationships
· And the sinful will turn to righteousness.
Can you imagine knowing all those things about your child even before they're conceived?! What hope! What responsibility! We all want our children to be properly prepared for the world. We want them to be smart and capable. We want them to be caring and kind. We want them to be successful and resilient—to make good choices and get the most out of life. And the onus of that responsibility can be paralyzing—especially to first time parents as they imagine trying to do all of it from day one with this tiny little baby.
Now imagine knowing your child will be God's spokesman. He will call the people to account. He will preach the Word of God in such powerful and profound ways that he can change the trajectory of a nation. And it's your job to make sure he's ready for it. Just the thought of it is impossible. How on earth could you do that?
And then we start to understand how sacred and necessary that silence could be for Zechariah. He was facing the impossible head on. His aged wife would carry a baby—there was finally hope. He would become a powerful prophet and they would have to teach him—there would be hope for the people. And Zechariah would have to keep that secret for nearly a year until he was born. And yet, there he was in the midst of impossibility, stuck with the only possibility of seeking God and hoping it would all work out. Praying. Listening. Studying the scriptures, preparing himself so that he might then prepare his son for the work God had called him to. And despite the impossibility, or maybe because of it, there was hope, that God could do things that were even greater than giving them a baby....God could use them as parents to raise up one of the most powerful prophets of their day...

Current Church News

  • Christmas Eve Services - Dec 24, 2017

    4:00 PM Family Christmas Eve. This service is especially designed for wiggly, giggly children and is intentionally kept shorter. It will include music by Children's bell choir and leadership from children.

    7:00 PM Traditional Christmas Eve. This service includes music from Choir and Bell Choirs, plus Holy Communion and the Candlelight Ceremony. Child care is provided.

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...