Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elizabeth's Encouragement

My Aunt Elizabeth died in July. She was 94. I miss her, but she left me with a wonderful gift—Aunt Elizabeth was a modern day picture to me of Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, whose story is recorded in Luke 1.

The first descriptor of Elizabeth given to us is she is righteous before God (Luke 1:6). In the last several years I often visited with Aunt Elizabeth on my way to see our son and his family who lived nearby. Aunt Elizabeth always peppered me with questions about me and my family, and about our ministry. She challenged me with her heart to serve even in her later years. I heard about her involvement with her local church; her love for her Sunday school class; I learned of her heart for her community through Meals on Wheels—a program she was instrumental in bringing to her town. Her personal stories spoke of a right relationship with God.

Further down in Luke’s record of Elizabeth, her relative Mary—newly pregnant with Jesus—visits Elizabeth who is six months along in her own miracle pregnancy. When Mary arrives Elizabeth welcomes her ecstatically. All her attention rests on Mary and her pregnancy. Mary is carrying Jesus, Elizabeth’s Lord. Elizabeth's hospitality shined.  That is how I experienced my Aunt Elizabeth; her hospitality shined. One time in particular is cemented in my memory.

The fall leaves were golden, almost crispy; they floated on the slight breeze to their resting place on the ground. The deep blue sky and the clear, fresh air made the drive to Aunt Elizabeth’s home a gift. It was noon when I arrived. As Aunt Elizabeth greeted me with her words and a warm hug, the aroma of her homemade vegetable soup simmering on the stove in the kitchen wafted to the living room. It was so welcoming. We enjoyed a wonderful time visiting over her lovingly prepared comfort food. Like Elizabeth of old, Aunt Elizabeth was given to hospitality.

And like Elizabeth in the Bible, to my Aunt Elizabeth family was important. The last time I was with Aunt Elizabeth was Mom's 90th birthday party. (The picture above was taken at the party) She and my cousin Cindy braved the wintery roads to celebrate with us. We stayed in the same motel that weekend. When I thanked her for coming, Aunt Elizabeth responded, "Your Mom is 90 and I am 92. I don't know how many more times there will be like this to be together." I was humbled and thankful.

Elizabeth and my Aunt Elizabeth paint a picture for me of encouragement and hospitality.
I want to follow their examples.

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb … and she exclaimed …”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
Luke 1:41, 42

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