57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eight day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
I don’t do well with change. It’s in my nature. I am the definition of a creature of habit. I eat the same breakfast almost every day. I get into clothing trends and buy the same version of one thing over and over (how many pairs of jogger pants do I need?). I like books in a series and television shows with four seasons or more so I can get good and comfortable with the characters knowing we’re in it for the long haul. Cora is the same way, terrifyingly so. She has to have the blue plate not the red. She has to have the cup with the purple lid not the green. She gets visibly more relaxed when I tell her the plan for the day. It’s something we’re working on. Embracing change together.
Zechariah was also a man not good with change. He was a priest who made a living on faith, yet when the angel appeared to him to announce against all common sense that aged and barren Elizabeth would have a child, he voices his doubts. And that’s the last thing he says for nine months. The angel takes his voice away to let him think. In those quiet months something changed in Zechariah. He began to accept the changes in his life. He accepted that his plan was not always the best plan, this man so used to being in charge, to speaking the truths, to leading the people. And because of this, he knew exactly what to name his son when the time came. He knew to give him the name the Lord had issued. He knew that God’s heritage would serve John better than his own. He did the brave thing despite the overwhelming voices of the neighbors and relatives who also did not like change and clamored for a Zechariah Jr.
Here’s the thing about change: we are designed for it. We are a world in flux. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Birth. Childhood. Adulthood. Old Age. Just when you figure out how to parent an infant he becomes a toddler and in the blink of an eye, a teenager. Just when you figure out your perfect schedule/hair style/job something shifts and it’s no longer working for you. Just when you’ve accepted the loss of daylight savings time, it begins again.
Change keeps us from the freedom to sink into ruts of our own making. It keeps us from the delusion of control. It is a blessing. It is a blessing. I’m saying that twice to better remember. The world is not going to stay the same from one year or generation to the next. But I’m not going to fear it. I am going to see it as an opportunity for letting go a bit. I’m going to give Cora the red plate. I’m going to sleep in an extra ten minutes and see if my family falls apart. I’m going to pray for our country as it heaves and roils against change in the hope that we can still find provision in the turmoil. And when enough time has passed, I’m going to see the good that has grown from change and I will praise God just as Zechariah did.