Today is Thursday the 19th of December, in the Third Week of Advent.

The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing the Song of Zechariah: ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel. He has visited his people and redeemed them.’

Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke.

A long reading today, so I can apply my imagination to it by taking it one scene at a time.

First, imagine Zechariah entering the sanctuary.  Imagine the sounds and the smells, perhaps the smell of incense. What is he wearing?  What colour is his hair?  What does the sanctuary look like? 

The angel appears, which frightens him, but the angel tells him not to be afraid.  His wife Elizabeth will bear a son, who is to be called John, and who will be great in the sight of God.   In your imagination, listen, and hear all the wonderful things the angel says about John.

Zechariah is reluctant to believe that such great news could be true.  For a moment, imagine his feelings, not daring to believe the good news.

Zechariah doubts the angel’s words, and is struck dumb, unable to speak.  He emerges from the sanctuary, still unable to speak, and has to motion to the people.  Imagine them speaking to him… them getting no reply…. his gestures.

Elizabeth conceives and says, "This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people."  Can you see her face?  Can you see the joy in her face and hear the joy in her voice as she says this?

You could end by reflecting on yourself for a moment, and speaking to God about how you have responded to this story, how you are part of this story of salvation.