Nov. 24, 2019
The Feast of the Reign of Christ
The Song of Zechariah
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour, born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old, that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Something to Do
Sing with Zechariah
Zechariah was an elderly priest, married to Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin). Zechariah and Elizabeth had never had children. One day, an angel appeared to Zechariah while he was carrying out his duties in the temple. The angel promised a child, who was to be named John and who would grow up to become John the Baptist. Zechariah was openly doubtful about the promise and the angel, as punishment or as proof, took away his voice until the moment of John’s birth (and naming).
When the wonderful day came, Zechariah’s voice was restored and the first words out of his mouth were the song, now known as the Benedictus or the Song of Zechariah.
Since it is a song, sing it! Or at least listen to it being sung. Some versions are linked below.
- A folky-acoustic version by the group Ordinary Time
- A chanted setting of the Latin text
- A choral setting of the English text
- A plainsong setting of the English text
- A…soul/praise song? paraphrase
Guide our feet in the way of peace
Zechariah sings of God’s promises, ending with the beautiful image of God guiding God’s people’s “feet in the way of peace”.
Allow God to guide your feet this week. How might you follow the way of peace? Is there something you can do to bring peace to your own heart or to a relationship that is sometimes (or always) conflictual? Can you be a peaceful presence in your workplace or school or neighbourhood?
Something to Wonder
Herald of the King
The Song of Zechariah is read instead of a psalm on the Sunday of the Reign of Christ (also known as Christ the King Sunday). It is sung to a baby who will be the one to prepare the way for the the Lord, the King, who is to come.
How do we prepare the way for the Lord?
What do you do to open yourself up to hear the call of Jesus?
What might you do to prepare the way for someone else to encounter Jesus?
Freedom under the King
Freedom and monarchy do not often go together but freedom is a defining feature of the reign of Jesus – freedom to worship; freedom from oppression; freedom from judgement; freedom from fear; freedom from death.
Imagine the power of these promises for a people living under occupation.
Imagine embracing these promises fully for yourself. What would you do if you lived into this freedom that has been offered to you?
Something to Learn
Praying the Daily Office
The Song of Zechariah is traditionally said during the service of Morning Prayer (or the Morning Office). The practice of the daily office – or any deliberate, consistent prayer practice – reminds us that our time and our attention belong first to Jesus, our true ruler.
Learn more about the ancient practice of the office and consider incorporating it into your own prayer life.
A brief history of the development of the modern Anglican daily office pattern.
A personal reflection by the Bishop of Tennessee on why praying the offices is important to him.
A few versions to try for yourself:
- Online with the Mission of St Clare
- As a PDF from the Anglican Church of Canada in Ordinary Time and in Special Seasons (e.g. Advent)
- As a podcast from the Church of England (this is the one I use most mornings)
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.