Every generation has a “before” and “after” moment. I’ve heard seniors talk about their life saying, “Oh, but that was before the war.” Or they’d say, “Well, after the war everything changed!” They were talking about the Second World War. For the generation before them, the defining moment was the Great War. It was the war to end all wars, the war that we now know was the first of two world wars that marked the twentieth century.
For our time in North America, the terrorism attacks of September 11, 2001 are such a before and after moment. Those attacks triggered the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. Before 9/11 you could fly without having to stand in line for hours in airport security. After 9/11 you had to have a passport to cross the border. For many people, 9/11 before and after stories are filled with grief for loved ones lost.
This week in our worship we will be talking about the before and after context of Luke’s gospel, and how his readers would have reacted to Zechariah’s song in Luke 1. Read it this week. It is a song of thanks for being saved from enemies. That song would have had a different feel, depending on whether you read it on September 10, or September 12, 2001.
Of course, for many people there are many small, more personal defining moments that have a before and after component. Before/after the baby, before/after the house burned down, before/after we moved, before/after my brother committed suicide, before/after I committed my life to Christ. Zechariah’s song is a puzzle that we read and ponder in before and after moments, it’s a mystery that gives hope. In this “before” Christmas time, where there is so much to be done, when you may even long for the peace of “after” Christmas, take time to savour this mystery.
Thank you God for the gift of scripture, and the hope it offers. Be with us in this busy before Christmas time, awakening us to the after-effects of your Presence.