Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
Commentary: Zechariah is important in both the Christian and Muslim traditions as the father of John and the kinsman of Jesus. Some scholars believe that the “temple of the Lord” refers to the “Holy of Holies”, so that serving there would have been a once in a lifetime event for each priest. Zechariah is also remembered in Christian tradition outside of the Bible as a martyr who refused to reveal the location of his son and other boy babies during the slaughter of the innocents. Muslim tradition remembers him as a prophet who served as a guardian to Jesus’ mother, Mary. There are numerous traditions around his final resting place, including one that has him buried in a tomb with two of the disciples.
To Ponder: This is a very dramatic story of an experience of God’s presence. Have you ever had such an experience?
An important feature of Temple worship was incense. Is smell an important part of your spiritual experience? As you look forward to Christmas, are there particular smells that signal the season to you?