I was recently looking at the Benedictus, the words Zechariah says on the birth of his son, John the Baptist in Luke 1:67-79. It’s a powerful passage, although not as well-known as Mary’s song a few verses earlier in the chapter. As I looked at it, I started to see connections with various Old Testament passages.
When I looked into it further, I discovered that those 13 verses contain at least 19 references to Old Testament passages. When we read the Bible, especially songs or prophetic words spoken by people, we might assume that their words are pure and fresh and new and straight from heaven, but there is often much ‘borrowing’ and connecting of ancient words into a new situation.
What I began to suspect was that Zechariah’s work as a priest had led to an extensive knowledge and understanding of what we call the Old Testament. He was offering prayers in the temple in Jerusalem when he had an angelic encounter, followed by nine months of not being able to speak before the birth of a son in his old age. This prophecy is the first time he has spoken for nine months and his words bring together ancient words in a brand new way, making them familiar and rooted in his tradition as well as prophetic about the future.
It might be said that life is all about making connections – connections between people, objects, places and abstract concepts. One of my most favourite ways to see connections being made is through playing with loose parts. This is essentially open-ended play with a stack of things which can be moved and manipulated in a multitude of ways. It’s the easiest invitation to play that I know, and I’ve been using them with my children since they were small.
It started with a basket of brushes I collected from all rooms of the house – every type of brush I could find, except the loo brush! My six-month-old loved it and chose a bright red IKEA dish brush as her ‘carry around’ and ‘take out with me’ toy!