One of my favorite praise and worship songs is “Blessed Be Your Name.” In this song, the author promises to mindfully praise God during ALL of life’s most plentiful and abundant moments as well as the most desperate and suffering trials of one’s life. The refrain beckons, “My heart will CHOOSE to say, Lord blessed be your Name.” That line has always spoken to me. There is something powerful in willing your heart to be grateful and to choose to praise God in all things rather than to wallow in the bitter disappointments of one’s life.
There are few in the Bible who actively model such faith as this song speaks about, but Elizabeth and Zechariah are among them. They are faithful servants of God but despite their steadfast love and devotion to Him, they have not been able to bear a child and they are now very old. Yet however bitter this disappointment and sadness, their hearts still choose to publicly and privately bless God’s name, and so an angel tells them, “Your prayer has been heard and you will bear a son.” What unimaginable joy and excitement as one of their greatest hearts’ desires is fulfilled!
In today’s reading, they name their son John, which means “Yahweh has been gracious.” Indeed, Elizabeth and Zechariah turn his name and very essence back to praise and bless the name of the Lord, recognizing from whom this great blessing has been given. It is their faith and that of their son, John the Baptist, that will go on to prepare the way for our Lord, Jesus.
During this season of Advent, as we seek to come to your manger, we anticipate with great longing the birth of your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is he who knows the greatest desires of our hearts and who is your most gracious gift to us. During this busy season Lord, help our hearts to unfalteringly choose to bless His name. Amen.