Coming and going

Opening prayer

O Rising Dawn,
Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice:
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Antiphon

Elliott Engelmann,

Elliott Engelmann,

The trust threshold is crossed

There is the journey to the door,
Then the pausing at the threshold,
making a decision; and finally, the
crossing over in to the other region,
or else returning to base.
Barbara Hepworth, Sculptor quoted in J Roose-Evans' Journeying in, Journeying Out

Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John... Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old.” The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, God’s servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news. You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to.” (Luke 1:11,18)

They (the family and neighbours) were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John.” The people argued, “No one in your family has ever been named John.”  So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, “His name is John.” Everyone was amazed. (Luke 1:59-63)

Photography by Stephen Wood

Photography by Stephen Wood


For Zachariah the angel’s appearance and his own question signal the start of a 9 month spell of journeying with and through trust, which peaks at the moment of John’s birth.  Gabriel’s ‘You did not believe my words’ and Zachariah’s declaration, etched on a tablet, ‘ He is John’ bookend this passage of faith.  Some writers interestingly say John’s question ‘How can I be sure?’ was answered (and not deflected) with a sign, his miraculous silence, which would be mirrored in his son’s miraculous birth.
His coming and going with trust may have marked out a different path from that of Mary ( a quicker and more receptive heart and mind perhaps) yet Zachariah’s pause ends in decisive and humble conviction.  He crosses into ‘the other region’ – the decision to name their son John was controversial and shows he had flipped into a full ‘Yes’. Maybe Zechariah’s experience of crossing this threshold of trust illustrates too for us that we are not left alone with our faith.


Zachariah is given silence to help him cross a threshold.  In thinking of thresholds you have faced, what did you receive then?  Is there something you can ask for now?

Click here to print out a single sheet PDF of the above reflection .