I had so looked forward to my week in the Temple. It only came round occasionally - there are so many of us with the right to serve at the altar, and I am not high on the list.
Well, I wouldn't be.
Not really officer material you see...haven't quite fulfilled all my duties.
I don't have a son.
Actually, I don't have any children.
We kept hoping for many years - many years longer than was realistic, really. And kept trying. But it never happened.
I tried not to blame my wife. And she tried not to blame me.
But there were times....
But now, in our old age, we seem to have come to some sort of safe haven; a place of accepting it all, and making the best of it. And the best of it is pretty good. I love Elizabeth - always did. That's why I was keen to go on trying :)
So we loved each other and our nephews and nieces and the children next door and the grandchildren of friends.
Even when he was not answering our prayers.
So, I was looking forward to my turn at the altar - bringing the prayers of the people and offering the worship that is God's due.
It would be true to say I wasn't expecting what happened next - well, you don' do you? I love God - but I don't really expect God to talk to me.
I believe God has spoken to people - it's there in the Scriptures. But not people like me. Prophets, kings, those sort of people.
But, there was the angel, and there was a message and there was a promise.
And there was me - clumsy and human. And I didn't believe him.
It wasn't that I didn't want to believe him. I wanted more than anything to believe him.
But it was all too good to be true, and I babbled on about how I wasn't worthy, and it couldn't be true and how we weren't the kind of people who had miracles done for them....so, the angel told me to stop talking nonsense and to stay quiet until I could speak sense again. That was me silenced for the next nine months - yes, nine months. Because then there was the baby.
And then I had to believe.
But even now, even after all these years....it still seems impossible.
Why would God bless us so?
It's always the question. We can ask about suffering, and I did, so much, when there was no baby, We can ask about obedience, and what it might look like. We can ask about evil and where it comes from.
But now, as I come to the end, I discover that the only question I have is why do we have the gift of life and what does it mean? And even more, how can we live it best.....?