Posted tagged ‘Elizabeth’

Hope

November 30, 2015

 

“Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’” (Luke 1:18)

It is much easier to doubt than it is to hope. Doubt takes little effort. It comes like the incoming tide of an ocean shore…wave after wave inching its way up the sand…changing the configuration of our thoughts. Hope takes invested commitment.

Doubt pushes its way into our visions of the future. What will God do during this time? Doubt detours around God and muddies our journey. What new directions will God take us in? Doubt stubbornly roots itself in the stiffness of the present. What better things does God have for us as we journey through our life with him? Doubt sees no good, no possible renewal.

When we allow hope to rise we step into the certainty of God’s promise. We step out of our Zechariah moment and into the delight of Elizabeth’s new hope.

Some folk in our churches have to be nurtured out of doubt. There may need to be some people who walk alongside them and usher them towards hope. “Zechariahs” take a little longer to arrive at hope. Sometimes it takes a little more persuasion…a tied tongue for a while…for someone to discover the assuredness of God’s promise.

Let hope arise! Let hope arise! Let us be able to see the hope and excitement of Elizabeth’s words: “The Lord has done this for me!” (Luke 1:25a)

The Beginning of a Story

December 2, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  December 2, 2014

                                            

Each of us live in the midst of beginnings and endings. Our days are punctuated by both. We begin by ending the torturous sound of our alarm going off. We end the day by beginning another night of sleep. Seldom, however, do we consider that one event or one conversation could be the beginning of something God-inspired and ordained.

The gospel of Luke begins with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. When Zechariah went into the Court of the Priests to burn incense and offer prayers for the people he never would have considered that it was the beginning of a life-altering event. The honor of performing the priestly duties was incredible by itself, but who would have thought that an angel named Gabriel would be joining him in that inner place?

That encounter changed things! And it began things!

Zechariah receives the angelic message that he’s going to be a dad. His wife, Elizabeth, though she had not been able to have children before this and was well along in years, would get pregnant. His name would be John, though it was not a family name.

The end of Zechariah’s priestly duties was the beginning of a new story that would be echoed down through the centuries. Little did he know that the words of Gabriel carried hope and a new direction for mankind.

I was recently delighted to hear about a story that came out of La Salle Street Church in Chicago. The church had received $1.6 million dollars in a real estate transaction and decided to use $160,000 of it for the cause of good. Five hundred dollars was given to each of the 320 regular attenders to do good. The stories of what people decided to use their money for were incredible. One lady used her gift to gift other children at her daughter’s grade school with winter coats and clothing. One young man, who was from Jordan and a student at Moody Bible Institute, used his funds to contribute to the building a new skate park in Jordan.

Each gift was seed money for new beginnings. People were able to help others. It was a ripple effect of goodness filtering through a city and even into other countries.

We never quite know how our words, actions, and decisions will begin new stories in other lives, but God does!

 

Misunderstood Generosity

December 1, 2014

 

When Jerry opened the Christmas present that was from his mom and dad he was a little confused and perturbed.

He had graduated from college the previous May and had been fortunate to find a teaching position at a middle school in a rural school district about an hour away from the town he grew up in. It didn’t pay much, but he loved it. He loved seeing young minds suddenly understanding the mathematical methods that he taught.

He was thankful that he was able to be home with family for Christmas. His brother Silas, and twin sisters, Abby and Gail, were there also. Jerry was the youngest, but the only one who still lived in-state.

The box he had opened could have fit in his pocket. He reached into it and pulled out a key chain. He admitted later on that his first thought was “That’s all! A key chain!”

His siblings then each opened a present, and Jerry sat and battled with the conflicted feelings of anger and gratitude. Then his father said, “Oh Jerry! We forgot. You probably would like some keys to put on your key chain. Here’s one to get you started.”

His father reached into his pocket and pulled out a shiny key and handed it to Jerry. It had an “H” letter on the end of it. “H” for Honda.

“Merry Christmas! It’s parked in the garage.”

Jerry was speechless. He walked out into the garage to see a brand new Honda Civic. The box with the key chain had only been the beginning part of the story.

How often do we become confused by the generosity of God because we only have the first part of the story?

Zechariah was confused by God’s promise that he was to have a son. In Luke 1:7 we read that he and Elizabeth “…had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.”

Zechariah was on priestly duty in the temple to burn incense when an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that Elizabeth was going to have a son and he was to be named John. Zechariah questions this proclamation and is literally rendered speechless.

Zechariah didn’t see the whole picture. Sometimes God’s greatest gifts to our lives aren’t understood until later. Zechariah sees a wife who is past childbearing years. God gives a child who will go before his Son and proclaim the coming of the Messiah.

David’s brothers saw a boy who should have stayed home and been watching the sheep. God gave a courageous leader who would slay a giant.

Sometimes we only see a key chain and God is about to give a key. God is generous in the present and also in the future.

 

Pregnancy Stories

December 5, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                 December 5, 2013

 

                                     

 

     When pregnant women converge it is best for men to keep some distance! That isn’t because the women become violent, but rather that they share a bond together that, try as we may, men don’t quite understand. Pregnant women speak a different language. They talk about baby names, breastfeeding, the doctor who will deliver the baby, “Babies-R-Us”, labor pains, and swelled ankles. 

     Most men want to talk about some of those things, but only with the woman that is going to give birth to their child. Men rarely mix conversation of deer hunting season, the BCS football national championship game, and the best tires to buy for their vehicles with talk about 2 A.M. feedings and what they will do to pass the time in the birthing room. 

     When I read the birth narrative story in Luke I notice the moment where Mary greets expectant Elizabeth. She has been told by the angel that Elizabeth is pregnant and is “in her sixth month.” (Luke 1:36b)

     The story proceeds this way:

   “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘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?’” (Luke 1:39-43)

     There was a bond between two pregnant women, and more than that, a revelation within both of them as to what was going on- an old woman expecting her first child, and a virgin impossibly pregnant. They begin speaking a new kind of language that only the two of them could understand. Something of the Lord was happening in each of their lives. 

     It was an improbable meeting. Elizabeth great with child, and Mary, were assuming, just beginning her pregnancy. For three months they shared pregnancy stories, but more than that, shared stories about expectancy…what was God going to do through their two sons!