5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
At the outset, I see this story is going to be challenging.
If I am going to locate myself in this narrative, I want to be in the courts of King Herod. He is the one with all the power, prestige, and privilege in this story.
I know there is a little King Herod who lives inside me and demands to be heard. This tiny tyrant seeks to assert his will. He wants life to unfold according to his needs. He wants everyone to fall in line with his vision for how life should work.
But I also know that King Herod creates violence, darkness and terror wherever he is allowed to reign.
No one ever said about King Herod that he was “righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.”
Those strong words of affirmation are saved for Zechariah “who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah” and his powerless wife Elizabeth.
But I do not want to be Zechariah or Elizabeth. Their story is filled with pain. For all their goodness, the defining reality of their lives is lack. “They had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.”
To be childless in the days of King Herod was to live without hope. To be childless was to approach old age knowing you are vulnerable and at risk. There was no safety net for those who were childless in the time of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Am I willing to let go of my determination to be King Herod?
Will I join Zechariah and Elizabeth, recognize my poverty in whatever form I experience it, and open to the possibility that there may be other ways to live with my poverty that do not require me to seek to impose my will on life?