Saturday, December 20, 2008

The journey to the birth: Elizabeth

One of the most jarring parts of motherhood for me was losing my first name. For years, I was most often addressed as “Jane’s mother.”

Imagine how Elizabeth felt. She was John the Baptist’s mother. There, I just did it to her again.

What do we know about Elizabeth? According to Luke, she was from the daughters of Aaron. Aaron was the brother of Moses, assisting him as Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.
It’s always significant when a particular ancestor was selected. Aaron, as a aide, was selected for Elizabeth’s heritage.

Partnership hovered over Elizabeth. She didn’t need center stage. We also are told that she was righteous in God’s sight, “living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” (Luke 1:7)

She was barren and now well along in years. The dream of a child was cold as the ashes of last year’s fire.

We see her heart when she found herself pregnant and gave God the credit: “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1:25)

When Mary visited, full of the Holy Spirit and with child, Elizabeth did not compare babies and miracles as mothers often do. Instead, she blessed Mary. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your offspring!” (Luke 1:42)

Mary could have been dreading the response of her neighbors, for illegitimate births could trigger stoning. But here she got blessing and encouragement from Elizabeth.

“How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth exulted, giving the first human understanding of the coming child Mary bore.

When John was born, Elizabeth rejoiced with her neighbors. She stood firm on the name that Zechariah had someone conveyed to her. And then she slipped out of our view.

We don’t share her joy as she raised this miracle son of hers. We don’t know if she had opportunity to know Jesus.

But we know she was content to be the mother of the man who prepared the way. She didn’t clamor for more but rejoiced in God’s favor to her. Her son seemed to have the same attitude to his ministry.

I wish I could sit down over tea with Elizabeth.

Blessed is she who has believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!” (Luke 1:45)

Tomorrow: A song

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