Focal Passage: Luke 1:67-79
My wife, Sharon, describes
in her book, Getting to the Other Side the first Christmas we spent in Rwanda.
In a chapter entitled
“Drums” she writes: “They begin at the stroke of midnight, when Christmas Eve
becomes Christmas Day.
“They go on in the darkness
and continue as the world gets light.
“They sound all of Christmas
Day until the stroke of midnight Christmas night.”
That first Christmas in
Butare, Rwanda, I thought that the sound of the drums beginning in the darkness
of midnight was one of the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard in my life.
The drumming was the
Rwandan’s way of announcing to the villages on the hills the birth of Jesus
She later tells how for the
Rwandan people it was a great honor to be allowed to beat the drums.
In the gospels we read of
numerous individuals who were allowed a place in the birth narrative of Jesus.
In Luke’s account we are
given the added pleasure of hearing the songs of praise that were sung on that
first Christmas morning.
One of those pieces has
traditionally been called “Benedictus (or Blessed),” the song of Zechariah,
father to John the Baptizer.
Though his part in the
account seems to be marginal to Jesus’ birth, it is an important part.
Like the drummers of Rwanda
he has been given the privilege of drawing everyone’s attention toward “the
Dayspring, or Dawn” which will break upon us from on high (1:78).
His own son, John, as
prophet of the Most High, will “go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (1:76).
Zechariah praises the Lord
for responding to the desperate cries of His people.
He prophesies, “For he has
raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he
spoke … from long ago” (1:69-70).
This horn, used by animals
to attack and defend, symbolizes the power and protection of Messiah.
He praises God for his own
newborn son who would one day point all Israel to God’s Messiah.
He praises God for the hope
and peace that will come to a world in crisis, anxious and fearful, through His
tender mercy, giving light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of
And so, to the amazement of
those around him, the former voiceless Zechariah, now filled with the Holy
Spirit, beats (drums!) the air with impassioned voice, testifying of this
miraculous event that would transform the world — “Blessed be the Lord God of