The old woman grew tired as she gazed up the darkening path to hopefully catch a glimpse of her husband. She worried much on these days when he began travel so early and rode until late. A few times he had risked the bandits that frequented the hills and completed his trip well into the night. The clouds high overhead were wrapped in golden orange that was quickly shifting to gray, then black. She decided to go back inside their little home when she looked up the road one last time. She saw his faint image off in the distance. A moment later, she heard the plodding steps of the old burro.
"I'm glad you made it back, husband!" she called out. "How was Jerusalem? Did you enjoy your time with the 'Three Kings?'" He lifted his head and pointed to his throat. "Are you ill? I have some warm soup that will surely help!" She waited until they arrived at the post Zechariah used when he needed to hitch his animal, then she reached up and gave her husband a hug as she said, "Take your beast to the barn and I will have your supper ready on the table."
It was as her husband walked silently into the door that she noticed this slight grin on his face. "What are you so happy about that you smile even when you have laryngitis?"
Zechariah quietly reclined at the table and began to sip his soup, then took a bite of the hard bread. Chewing, he reached down by his side to pick up the small writing table which he brought with him from Jerusalem. "I was chosen," he wrote, then looked up to see Elizabeth's expression.
"Chosen? To offer the incense?"
"That is why you have such light in your eyes! Husband, no wonder you don't have a voice. You must have told the story a hundred times already!"
He held up his hand to slow her down. "An Angel visited," he wrote hastily.
"An Angel? In the Holy Place?"
Zechariah nodded again.
"Why? What did he say? No one has seen an Angel in our lifetime!"
Zechariah wrote furiously. "God has heard our prayers!"
"Our prayers? What do you mean, Zechariah? What prayers do you mean?"
Zechariah point to his wife. Then to himself. Then back to the tablet, emphasizing the last two words: "OUR PRAYERS!"
A look of shock covered Elizabeth's face. What did that mean? She pondered it, then looked down to the new words her husband had written: "We will have a son!"
As she read them, she looked up at the tears breaking from the corner of Zechariah's eyes. She bit her lip. Then a little sob escaped from deep within her. "How? What are we to do?"
He reached under the little table where they sat. He pulled out the small bouquet of flowers and handed them to her.
She sobbed again. Then laughed. Then leaped up and broke into a little dance.
To my readers: the events surrounding the birth of Christ are given extensive coverage in Scripture. The parts we don't always know about are the human elements, especially from the viewpoint of Jesus' participants. My attempt this Christmas is to stay true to the Biblical text, while shading in what it may have been like "between the lines." Please distinguish my ruminations from God's Word by reading the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke. My hope is that reading my words impacts you even a tiny percentage as much as writing them has impacted me.