Saturday, 17 March 2012

24. Elizabeth - surprise in middle age

I always think of Elizabeth as old, but age is a relative term so although she had given up hope of having children, she may only have been in her forties (by first century Palestine standards, 'old'). She's had to find other outlets for all those maternal longings.

Until a strange day when husband Zechariah returns from Temple duties unable to speak.

Whether this state of affairs was greeted with horror or glee by his wife, we shall never know, but clearly something momentous has happened (BIG angel; son to be born. Must call him John, even though no one in the family has ever been called that before).

Elizabeth receives her unlikely pregnancy with joy not dissimilar to cousin Mary's, who soon makes a visit. How women love to swap pregnancy tales. Yet these two women are to give birth to the entire cosmic salvation plan of God Almighty, no less.

Elizabeth's profound grasp of the new thing that's afoot is caught in her amazing rhetorical question: 'But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' (Luke 1: 43). 

How does she suddenly equate the God of Israel with this tiny baby inside Mary's womb? It would take most other people an age to grasp; still thousands don't. But Elizabeth knows with a woman's, instinctive, intuitive, embodied, saving knowledge. 

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