Sunday, December 20, 2015

Elizabeth's story

Hello, my name is Elizabeth, wife of Zecharaiah. We have a small home in the hill country of Judea. First, let me tell you a little about me, and then I will tell you a little about why you should know me. My husband and I have waited for years to have a child. Never did God choose to bless us with a baby of our own. I am well past the age when a woman can have a child, and yet, now of all times, God has chosen to give us a son. A beautiful healthy baby boy! Nothing is impossible with God. We were told of his coming by an angel, the angel Gabriel himself. He spoke to my husband and said we would have a baby even in our old age. And, we should name him John. After Zechariah heard from the angel he could not speak, not a word,  until John was born and he wrote that his name would indeed be ‘John.’ That was the talk of the countryside for a while!

Before John’s birth, when I was yet expecting, I had a visitor. A young woman, my relative. Now, her, I am sure you know. She is young, about 15. She came to visit me, and stayed with me for a few months. She also was pregnant at that time. Hers also was not an ordinary pregnancy. Just as Zechariah had been visited by the angel Gabriel, so was this young girl. You know her now, don’t you? Yes, Mary. She had never been with a man, had no husband, and yet the angel said she would have a baby. How can that be? He said the child was there of the Holy Spirit. This would be the King that we had waited for from almost the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden of Eden.

All my life I waited for this promise, this prophecy to be fulfilled. I am not a student of the Law and the Prophets, what you call the Old Testament, but I know the promise of a savior. I want to share with you some of the prophecies that we have held to, longed for, for many generations. These are just some of the promises of God, spoken in the Old Testament, and then they came true in your New Testament. This savior would come from a woman, descended from Abraham. The prophet Micah told us he would be born in Bethlehem, in Genesis we read he would belong to the family of Judah, an heir to David’s throne. Somehow he would come out of Egypt, according to Hosea, and yet be called a Nazarene. He would be presented with gifts, come as a king riding on a donkey, and on and on. God gave us many promises all throughout the Bible so we could recognize this promised Messiah who it says will take our sins as a sacrificial lamb. Does that mean no more sacrifices in the temple? I can’t understand all of that, yet, but Mary has been told that this baby is to be the One. He will be called the Son of the Most High. To think that small baby growing inside of her is God Himself.

When Mary arrived on my doorstep and I heard her greeting, my own baby, not yet born, jumped within me. I suddenly felt filled of the Holy Spirit and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Mary rejoiced as well and worshiped God who had chosen her. I know that through the rest of time people will know her and recognize her special role as the mother of Jesus.

She stayed with me for a few months, until the time that my baby, John was born. He too was prophesied about, he is to prepare the way for his younger cousin, the Messiah. He will be a voice calling in the wilderness, “prepare ye the way of the Lord.” He will call to repentance the people of Israel and point the way to the Savior, the King of Kings.

But, now let me tell you of the birth of Mary’s little boy, Jesus Christ, the Wonderful, Counselor, Might God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the baby, born in a manger.
The ruler of this day, Caesar Augustus (the stories I could tell about him!), required everyone to go to their home town to register for a census. Poor Mary! She is soon to be married to Joseph. He was so confused when he heard she was expecting a baby. He knew it was not his baby, and he almost sent her away quietly until an angel appeared to him and said this angel was indeed from God. So, trusting, but still unsure of what this all meant, Joseph and Mary set out for Bethlehem, the city of David, Joseph’s family town. Imagine that journey, expecting a child any day.

Well, they did arrive in Bethlehem, along with hundreds of other people. All there for the census, and no room in a hotel left for Joseph and Mary. They ended up in the stables, basically a dark, dirty cave they kept the animals in to keep them out of the weather and away from the guests. Of course, while there, Mary’s time came to give birth. Joseph didn’t know what to do. There, in a strange town, away from their home and neighbors. But, you know God is in control. Everything was fine. Mary delivered a healthy, baby boy. Her first born son. They wrapped him in cloths. He was beautiful, a healthy cry, amazing. Where to put him to rest? Well, the only thing available was the feeding trough for the animals, a manger. At the time of his birth angels appeared to shepherds in the field watching their sheep in the still of the night. I can tell you, they aren’t used to getting heavenly visitors. Is it obvious yet that this is not an ordinary baby? An angel delivered the birth announcement. He said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The shepherds got up right away and went to find the baby and they told everyone about it.
The shepherds were not the only ones who traveled to see Jesus. Wise men saw a star celebrating his birth and traveled a great distance to see him. They brought expensive gifts and worshiped him as well.

I still don’t understand it all. How can this baby be the promised Messiah, the Savior, the Lamb of God that will take away the sin of the world? What part will my little John play in this amazing story? What I do know is that God has given us the greatest gift, that we could spend our lifetime learning about. In Jesus Christ we have a life lived out on earth of how God would actually live when faced with tempting situations, with bad days, with false accusers. I pray that my story will make you want to know more about this baby born of my relative, Mary. Read His story and think about God’s greatest gift during this Christmas season.

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