Readings: Isaiah 12:2-6; Amos 9:8-15; Luke 1:57-66
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Luke 1:57-63, NRSV
Elizabeth is the first to resist fitting her son into his expected place; she insists on naming him John – a name no one else in the family had. So the well-meaning relatives and neighbors moved on to Zechariah, figuring he would do what was expected and name his son after himself. They must have been shocked when Zechariah backed Elizabeth’s choice, thwarting their well-meaning but misguided attempt to limit John with expectations of conformity. It’s an often overlooked rebellion, but an important one.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were going to make mistakes, just like all parents. But they based their parenting on the biggest truth there is: our children belong to God first, to us and our extended family second.
[That truth isn’t just about John. It’s about us, our parents, our children, everyone.]