Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. . . . And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:57–58, 65–66 ESV)
Brennan Manning once wrote, “In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” Truly living in community means everyone around you knows the ups and downs of your everyday life. When Zechariah was struck mute due to his unbelief, everyone in their community knew he had seen a vision that had caused him to lose his power of speech, just as everyone knew when Elizabeth was pregnant for the first time, despite her old age.
This is one of the most beautiful things about living in community: the sharing of life together. This allows us to share in our joys, sorrows, celebrations, and sufferings. Because everyone knew of the childless decades Zechariah and Elizabeth had gone through, they could join in the great joy found in the birth of their son. They also knew of the troubles this couple undoubtedly experienced during the pregnancy due to Zechariah’s divinely tied tongue, so when his voice returns just in time to name this new baby boy, they were rightfully struck with fear.
Because of the tightly knit community around them, Elizabeth and Zechariah were able to not only share the miraculous story of John’s conception and birth but also allow others to experience it with them firsthand. Imagine how much greater their witness was because of it. When it comes to your community, do you leave yourself open so that they are aware of your past, wounds and all, and so that they can continue to take part in your ongoing journey?