‘Twas the Night Before Advent

Twas the night before Advent, when all through my mind
Ran stories of angels sent to humankind.
There was so much to do before Jesus appeared
They came to prepare us to welcome him here.

One story includes: Zechariah the priest
And Lizzy his wife, partner in best and least.
They both lived so righteously, worshipping God
But one thing there was – made their lives feel so flawed.
They never had children, whatever they tried
And when neighbors heard this – oh, how they’d deride!
But God doesn’t punish through anyone’s womb
And soon they’d hear news that would brighten their gloom.

Zechariah was serving in God’s holy place
Off’ring incense and pond’ring the breadth of God’s grace.
When what to his wond’ring eyes did appear,
But an angel from heaven that filled him with fear!

“Fear not,” said the angel, “your prayer has been heard
Your Lizzy’ll be pregnant. I give you my word.
His name shall be John. He will fill you with glee
And many around will rejoice, come and see!
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
But strong wine and drink he must never go toward.
When he’s in the womb as he strengthens and grows,
He’ll be so filled with Spirit he practically glows!
He’ll be like Elijah, his spirit and power
Will draw people to him for many an hour.
They’ll come back to God, family wounds he will heal.
He’ll fill them with wisdom to make their minds reel.
He’ll come to this people, the way to prepare
Crying, ‘the Lord is coming – repent of your cares!’

All this Zechy heard with a mind so befuddled
And wondered how angels could get things so muddled.
“See here,” he declared, as he looked to the sky
“Me and Lizzy are old – there’s no way this will fly!”

The angel was shocked the priest did not believe.
His eyes he did roll – he was so aggrieved!
“I’m Gabr’el,” he said, “sent from God in the Highest.
You question my words, as though I might be biased?!
I bring you good news, but because you do doubt,
Your tongue will go silent – you won’t scream or shout.
Your words will return to you when your son comes
But until that day, little passes your gums.”

As soon as he’d come, angel Gabr’el was gone
Leaving Zechy to wonder just what had gone on.
The people outside saw that Zechy was late
And muttered as one, “Why do we have to wait?”
But when he came out with tongue stuck to his jaw,
They realized that surely a vision he saw.
With so many gestures, hands waved through the air,
He tried to describe what had happened in there.
Some things he conveyed and at others he failed.
In the state he was in he could not be detailed.

He went home to Lizzy, their mir’cle to share
They spent five months secluded in worship and prayer.
Lizzy said, “See God loves me – I knew it was so.
God’s grace is more pow’rful than people’s low blows.”

And when labor pains over Lizzy did come,
The word was fulfilled: she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors were glad and her family, too:
The Lord had shown mercy: our God through and through!
The fam’ly was sure he’d be named for his father,
But Lizzy said, “No – now don’t be such a bother!
We’re calling him ‘John’ as the angel foretold.”
They looked over to Zechy: what would he uphold?
He reached for a tablet: “My son’s name is John,”
He wrote with a fury without rambling on.
The people stared blankly and some rolled their eyes,
But just then Zech’s tongue freed, shouting praise to the skies.
Then they were afraid of the things they had seen:
The things they had witnessed, what could they all mean?
This child to be born marks a change in our land –
Perhaps we should listen and learn what we can.

That John grew to be John the Baptist of yore,
He opened their hearts for what would be in store.
And we in our day hear good news shining bright
For Jesus is coming, all hearts to unite.
This season of Advent, oh let us make room
For the Savior whose love causes all hearts to bloom.

(Lk 1:5-25, 57-66)

Image credit: “American Farm Scenes, Winter” by Nathaniel Currier (American, 1813-1888)

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