Rev. Zack Cohen was of the old school. Deeply religious, he organized his days around serving God both in his ministerial duties and in the little observances of daily life. Perhaps it could be argued that Rev. Zack was a little bit too religious and not quite spiritual enough. He was so careful in his observance of all the religious duties that sometimes it looked to a more free-spirited outsider as though he was forgetting the God whom he was trying to honor. But that really wouldn't be fair. Zack Cohen never forgot God as he went about his work. It was just that he wasn't one of God's intimate friends, didn't expect to be, and wasn't about to try to read God's mind. So Zack did his duty to God the best way he knew how and trusted that God would find a way to accomplish whatever else was needed.
Until one day. Ah, that day we, many of us, long for and fear ever experiencing. The day when God stopped by in person for a little chat in the worship center. God was, in effect, wearing his jeans and T-shirt that day; I mean that God appeared in Zack-friendly human guise. And even though God was doing casual Friday, Rev. Zack Cohen was just overcome. I mean, he was struck dumb. Literally. For nine months. Terrible thing for a pastor or any church leader. He gesticulated and he scribbled notes and he did everything he could to communicate, but the truth is that even if he could have spoken there is no way he would have been able to share the fullness of his experience. Maybe, in fact, he shared more by saying nothing. Totally overcome by God's presence and God's promise, Zack went home to his wife.
Nine months. Nine months of silence. Except, of course, for the clapping hands, whistling, stamping feet, and pounding on the walls in frustration. Long enough for a baby to be born. Long enough for Zack to be fully acclimated to the promise God made to him. And when the baby was born, red and squalling, Zack insisted that God had already named the baby "John". And then! And then old Rev. Zack Cohen broke out in song, his voice restored and his praise of God unfettered by religious details.
In the great musical play, "The Good News As Told by Luke", Zack's song is the last of the Old Testament songs. It is the beginning of the transition from the old religious school to the new. Rev. Zack Cohen was of the old school. But he could see the new school coming. Indeed, he held it in his arms.
"Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel! For God has come to us and brought us out of slavery, so that we will be saved from our enemies and become able to serve God without fear, in holiness and rightness of life. You, my child, will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him. And God will come like the rising sun to shine on people who have lived in the shadows and to guide us as we walk the way of peace."
November 27, 2000
(November 30, 2015)