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Around the moment when the hand of our historical clock was ticking from B.C. to A.D., Herod ruled Judea as a puppet of Rome. Granted the title “King of Judea,” he was trusted to underwrite the interest of his Roman backers. Herod claimed Judaism as his faith, though many Jews questioned his devotion due to his lavish, corrupt, and arguably compromised lifestyle.
His tyrannical reign was an icky mix of abused power and theology. He utilized secret police to audit his people’s analysis of him, restricted protests, and removed opponents. It can be said that Herod’s rule most notably contributed to erecting elaborate constructs (built to improve his reputation) as well as embedding within his people significant levels of pent up resentment and anger.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Meanwhile, in the hill country of Judah, a man of decent enough religious and societal privilege was being chosen by lot to burn incense in the temple. The elderly priest Zechariah, from the tribe of Aaron, was married to a barren woman. Elizabeth, despite her piety, lived in a world where the religious rule clearly stated that the obedient would be granted children by God. She lived her life under a faith narrative that undermined her faithfulness, that caused her very existence to communicate to God’s people that she must have been doing something wrong. The old story didn’t make enough room for folks like her. But something was stirring.
Duties - Zechariah - Angel - Child - People
While fulfilling his priestly duties, Zechariah was met by an angel who announced that a child would be born to them who would make ready a people for the coming Messiah. Shortly after, Zechariah’s ability to speak was taken from him. Then comes the part I love . . .
Elizabeth — a brown-skinned, elderly, Middle Eastern woman raised during a time before women’s rights...
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