Traditions

(A poetic reflection on Luke 1:57-66, for December 23, 2022)

I’ve always appreciated

that Luke included a family argument

in his telling of the story

of the naming of John the Baptist.

 

The relatives were not expecting what happened.

Everyone came to the ceremony, it seems,

expecting Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son

to be named “Little Zach,”

Zechariah Jr.,

…something like that, anyway.

 

Of course Zechariah was not yet able to speak again,

and it was clear that the family

was interpreting his muteness

as silent assent…

until he picked up that writing tablet.

 

There it was…in big block letters.

His name is John.

So much for tradition.

 

I’m sure there was an audible gasp in the room.

What does this change in plans mean?

Does it mean he won’t be following in his father’s footsteps?

Does it mean he’s not going to be a priest?

Does it mean the child isn’t his?

Oh, I’m sure tongues were wagging

once the statement was made.

 

I’m sure Elizabeth tried to explain

that she and Zechariah

had their reasons…

but she was clearly getting nowhere

with the kinfolk and close friends

until Zechariah wrote it out

in plain sight.

 

I am reminded

that sometimes we hold tradition too tightly

and when we do

we prevent our hands

from holding something better.

Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, Mo., and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, Mo. 



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