Zechariah's Silence

Scripture: Luke 1:5-25

Years ago, I participated in a silent retreat at The Snail’s Pace in Saluda, NC. At first, everything in me wanted to speak or at least turn on something to distract me from the chaotic jumble of “stuff” in my head and heart. After a while, though, my thoughts and feelings began to settle and calm. I began to relax contentedly into the silence, and to feel and think more clearly and deeply than I could recall ever having done before. By the third day, the silence felt luxurious and deeply joyful.

While the consequence for Zechariah’s disbelief that Elizabeth would bear a child in their old age (the inability to speak for the entirety of her pregnancy) may seem harsh, I think of Zechariah’s silence as a gift - for him, his family, and his community. It also served the important purpose of preparing Zechariah to love and guide and nurture John as John’s father, effectively helping to prepare the way for Jesus.

I imagine Zechariah’s joy and his smile growing each day right along with Elizabeth’s belly. I imagine his community, who Luke tells us knew he had seen a vision from God, waiting in anticipation and joy, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was at work in all their lives. I imagine the relationships between them all deepened by Zechariah’s silence, which enabled them to really see each other and to see God, and to realize God’s love for and providence in the world.


Dear Lord,

Please help us to quiet our buzzing thoughts and busy hands, to turn off the sounds and busyness and stimulations of the season…to simply be and breathe in silent stillness with You.

And, in that silent stillness, please speak to us in the ways only You can. Give us peaceful hearts and minds that we may truly hear and see You and each other.

Help us to prepare the way for You – in ourselves, in each other, and in the world.


About the Contributor:

Jessalyn Wynn Story currently serves on the Session, the Peace & Justice Taskforce, and the Youth Committee. She and her spouse, Chris Story, are the loving parents of Wynn (13) and Suzanna (9). Her professional work is in community engagement in Spartanburg and at Wofford College.