Sometimes when I select the passage for each day’s writing, I go in order. That’s been the case with the Monday New Testament passages. I’ve been following the order of Scripture. And we went through Matthew pretty easily, sped past Mark (only one verse there) and now we’re starting again with Luke. Kinda funny that we’ll be landing on some very Christmasy stuff during holy week, but that’s ok. Sometimes it’s good to review how the story began. This is how Zechariah and Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin) learned that they would have a son, who would grow up to be known as John the Baptist. Luke 1:11-15a.
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.
It is not lost on me that today is one day removed from my daughter’s birthday, which we celebrated with family and friends yesterday. We got out her memorial quilt, made from her baby clothes, went through some of the things we had saved, and made plans for a coupled of shadow boxes. Yesterday was also the birth day of a new friend’s brand-new son! It makes me smile to think of that. Thankfully for her, she did not have to experience childbirth as Elizabeth must have. Can you imagine having a baby in your old age? Things are complicated enough for those with young bodies.
You notice that the joy and rejoicing is centered around John’s birth. Not so much his life, though it does say he will be great. And he certainly was. But I don’t think the religious leaders of the day did much rejoicing over John’s ministry. And certainly those who loved him didn’t rejoice at the end of his life. The good news is that Zechariah and Elizabeth were certainly long dead by the time their son was beheaded, and so were spared the agony of that kind of loss.
While our loss was and is still difficult, I can’t imagine being the mother of an executed man. I’ve at times identified with Mary in her loss, but honestly I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to have your child arrested, tried, found guilty, and then watch that child be put to death. My heart could not take it. But perhaps all of the “treasuring” that Mary did in her heart helped strengthen her for the loss to come.
Each day is new for us, and some are harder than others. But God’s mercies go with us each day on our path, and He does give us joy even in our loss. We rejoice that our children are safe in heaven, and continue to share our story with those who need to hear it. My daughter’s life was a short period of rejoicing, from her birth until her death. I pray that my life can be one of that kind of joy, too, even though my journey is longer.