Today we begin reading the Gospel of Luke. The appearance of an angel to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was dramatic. All the people were “praying without at the hour of incense”. Presumably this was the ninth hour: Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1). Dramatic things sometimes happen when people pray. This thought was written at 9 am on the 9th day of the month, the ninth month of the year. In this difficult world we need times of prayer more than ever.

When Jesus was dying on the cross there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (3pm) when he died (Matthew 27:45). The world is in spiritual darkness as to the meaning of life and the reality of God but at some point that darkness will be dramatically lifted. Those who have not seen the light will find it is then too late – the door will be shut as in the parable (Matthew 25:10).

Zachariah was struck dumb and mute. He was told his prayer had been heard, but he did not really believe so had to wait nine months until the babe was born when he could speak again. God then used him as a witness that made all the people marvel (Luke 1:65) and the event was talked about everywhere. So this chapter is about the drama of God’s intervention in the normal course of events, and the affect it had. The greatest was the effect on Mary the mother Jesus – see and the wonderful words she uttered.

We are now living in the eleventh hour. Jesus appealed for helpers at such a time (Matthew 20:6). Let us respond to what he said. In contrast no one was willing to give any thought to God in Ezekiel’s day. We read of God’s complaint, you “have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my rule” (5:7). In contrast to Ezekiel what a wonderful message Luke has for us for the rest of this month: may we be inspired to obey.