Monday September 20, 2021 Evangelism – You’re on mute
Luke 1: 8 – 22
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.’
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak
It may seem odd, beginning a series of devotions on evangelism with John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah. And yet it may be a true and honest place to start.
Zechariah, you see, is known for his silence. For a long time, his lips were firmly sealed. I would think that agony, because Zechariah had plenty to say; he just could not say it. The frustration at not being able to speak about something so momentous and wonderful must have been torment to his soul. He wanted so desperately to tell the good news, but he simply could not. Whatever the reason for this, it certainly felt like punishment.
IsZechariah someone we can relate to? Many Christians readily admit that they find talking about their faith difficult. For some reason, it does not come naturally. We have wonderful Good News bubbling away inside us and yet, when we get the opportunity, we just can’t say a word! Afterwards we might kick ourselves, counting this another failure adding to the already way too long list of failures; another missed opportunity that reinforces our guilt-ridden opinion of ourselves that we are not very good witnesses at all.
Some of us will go on struggling with the guilt as it rises and falls in intensity, depending on how recently we last heard a sermon on evangelism! Others will become resigned to the silence and make excuses for it: ‘I can’t!’ or ‘It’s just not me!’ More complex characters may come up with convoluted arguments that are meant to show it’s not really necessary to talk about one’s faith, so long as you live it. Anything to make our silence more palatable.
And you and me? Are we silent when we know we should be shouting out God’s wonderful Good News? Do we remain silent, no matter how much we long to speak? If so, can we acknowledge this unpalatable truth together? And will you join me on a journey in the hope of seeing things change?
What’s that you’re saying, “You’re on mute!? … No one can hear me speaking? … I need to unmute myself?”
How do I do that, Lord? Will you help me?
The Rev’d Nick Stanyon is Synod Evangelist for West Midlands Synod