Today’s readings… (2 kings 15), (Ezekiel 5) (Luke 1)
   Today we begin reading the Gospel of Luke. A chain reaction of thoughts was triggered as we read of the dramatic appearance of an angel to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.  All the people were “praying without at the hour of incense.”  Presumably this was the ninth hour as we recall that Peter and John went up into the temple “at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer” (Acts 3 v.1 and 10 v.3).  Wonderful things can happen when people pray as we experienced recently. 
   When Jesus was dying on the cross there was darkness over all the land until the 9th hour (Matt.27:45).  We realize that the 9th hour is 3 pm on our clock.. We live in a world in which there has been spiritual darkness as to the meaning of life and the reality of God.  At some point that darkness will be dramatically lifted, but then, those who have not seen and acted on the light in God’s word will find it is too late – the door will be shut as the parable says.
   Zachariah was blessed, but he was struck dumb and mute – he was told his prayer had been heard, but he did not really believe; not until 9 months had passed and the babe was born did he receive the ability to speak again.  Then God used him as a witness that made all the people marvel. (Luke 1 v.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 – a great part of this is the faith of Mary his mother and the wonderful words she uttered.  Today, it is now well past the eleventh hour in the world’s time clock, and the appeal to us is the same as when Jesus talks of “the eleventh hour” – let us respond to what he said [Matt. 20 v.6], for the Master is looking for those who are ready to put their hands to the plough in “the eleventh hour.” 
    In contrast there was no one willing to put their hands to work for God at the time Ezekiel was writing (Ch,5), as we read today.  The way people lived then was the same as so many are living now, totally focussed on themselves.  The language Ezekiel uses exposes the total spiritual barrenness of the people with their misuse of God’s magnificent Temple, today nearly all misuse or ignore his Word.  God’s message is, “because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things, therefore I will cut you down. My eye will not spare, I will have no pity.” [v.11].  A divine prophet today would have a very similar message.   We must read God’s word more and more – and what meaningful lessons are in Luke’s Gospel for the rest of this month.