Friday, December 14, 2018

Poured Out - Mary Letter Day 13

When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:14-30 
Dear Aunt Elizabeth,
Tonight was our last supper together as a family. Tomorrow we will set out on our travels away from everyone I know. We will have to go a long way round, since Poppa is very concerned about us being followed. We had a huge meal with all my favorites. We all tried to be happy and positive but it felt more like a funeral meal than a celebration. It was delicious and Momma had gone all out, but it was hard sitting there, looking at the people I love, knowing that we won't see each other for quite some time. Afterwards, I ran outside and cried.
We collected some water from the stream in the dark. It was cool and I stood for a time with my feet in the stream. This simple pleasure will be no more as well. I feel poured out, Auntie, my body and spirit stretched to the limit. God promised through the angel that I was being blessed and honored. Somehow, it doesn't feel like blessing nor honor right now. I know I have to be patient but it is so hard!
Momma and I read your letter about your new little boy John and how Uncle has recovered his voice! We are so happy and excited for you! Momma was talking about coming to see you soon. It made me tear up knowing that I couldn't join her nor see the little one, so long awaited. I am a bundle of emotions these days. I think having a child within has changed me so much and not always for the better. I can cry and laugh very easily.
Please pray for us as we go forth so very soon. I keep in touch as best I can.
love always,
Mary

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Preparing - Mary Letter Day 12



Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. Luke 22:1-13 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

The serious preparations are underway and I am often seen as being underfoot. For fear of hurting the child, they won't let me help in any way. I do understand they love me and are all trying to care for me. I'm going crazy watching and not helping. The little one inside seems to feel the same. He's jumping and kicking so much that I think he'd rather be helping than being cooped up within. I sneak out to the back patio and sit under the trees as often as possible. Poppa cautions me all the time. He's afraid if someone sees me they will try to hurt me! People are so cruel sometimes. 

We will start out very soon it seems. Family friends, the few who are still loyal, stop by at night with small gifts and money. They are sympathetic to our situation, but they also are afraid. We are all afraid, aren't we Auntie? Yet God has made a promise and I will try to do my very best to do my part. I know I am young and really unprepared for what is ahead, but I am also sure that sacrificing my shallow dreams will bring an unbelievable gift to the world. I still cannot believe that this is happening to me! People may run to anger and fear, but I am trying hard to be faithful and strong. We are never alone, are we, if we are following the Holy One.

Joseph often joins me when I sit outside at night. He has taken up residence with us this last week or so. It really has helped us get to know each other. He is so gentle and quick to laugh at my silly jokes. We do not share a bed under my parent's roof, for now, as they want to protect me and the baby. He does hold me in his arms at night and sings to me the ancient psalms, which are a great comfort. 

Pray for us please. The journey ahead scares me. My first trip away from home ever and I am so awkward and hugely round! Maybe they should just roll me all the way to the registry!

love

Mary




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Go Your Way - Mary Letter 11



Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 7:53—8:11 


Dear Auntie,

The time is fast approaching that we must be leaving here. The leaders found Poppa  in the village and told him that I could be stoned because of my behavior. They said all sorts of horrible things to him and claimed I could be condemned to death. Oh, Auntie, I have not been unfaithful in any way. Yet we are having to leave the only home I have every known!

Joseph and Poppa have borrowed a donkey so that I can ride some of the time we travel. The animal can also carried the supplies my family has gathered for our time away. Momma is now baking up a storm so that we have honey cakes to enjoy along with the nuts, dried fruits and meats that she is packing for us. Once everything is ready we will disappear into the night.

For me, I walk around our home during the day, cataloging the sights and sounds that are so familiar to me. I want to remember every little inch of this place so I can carry my only home in my mind and heart. At night I have been sitting outside in the dark, trying to capture the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees. I am so afraid this will disappear or I will disappear! I pray I can hold on to all the things of my family and this place as we go into the wilderness. Everything will be so new, Auntie, and I am so scared!

I will keep up the letters, but Momma will want to hear from me as well. Please pray for me. I will need it!

love always,

Mary

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cry For Help - Mary Letter Day 10


To you, O Lord, I call;
   my rock, do not refuse to hear me,
for if you are silent to me,
   I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my supplication,
   as I cry to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
   towards your most holy sanctuary.

Do not drag me away with the wicked,
   with those who are workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors,
   while mischief is in their hearts.
Repay them according to their work,
   and according to the evil of their deeds;
repay them according to the work of their hands;
   render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord,
   or the work of his hands,
he will break them down and build them up no more.

Blessed be the Lord,
   for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
   in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
   and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
   he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
O save your people, and bless your heritage;
   be their shepherd, and carry them for ever. 


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Such good news from you! Momma told me that you are safely delivered 
and you have a healthy little boy! I know you were worried that your
body might not withstand the delivery, but I knew it would be well!
The Lord has called us to this responsibility, and you are so strong and
my role model. I am so proud of you and so happy for you!

Joseph and I sat in the garden last night. The air was cool and it was so
nice to be outside for a time. During daylight, I usually stay indoors so
that no one sees me like this. The folks in the village have rushed to
judgement and hurl all sorts of insults at us when they see me. And
sometimes they throw other things as well, including stones, rotten
fruit and big stick. The worst for me is being shunned by friends
and people who I love. It is so heart breaking to see people I have 
known all my life act like they don't know me.

We had a good talk last night, Joseph and I. He is quite a good man
and very patient with me. He explained what he and Poppa have
mapped out for our journey to be registered. We will travel by night
and stay with relatives, some of our family and some of Joseph's. 
We will probably leave in a day or two. I told him how frightened
I was and he said he was scared as well. He worries the baby will
come and he knows nothing about birth and babies! It was a comfort
to know we are scared together and trusting God together.

Love to you and your little one. Uncle too!

Mary




Monday, December 10, 2018

Waiting - Mary Letter Day 9

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
   do not let me be put to shame;
   do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
   let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
   teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
   for you are the God of my salvation;
   for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
   for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
   according to your steadfast love remember me,
   for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
   therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
   and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
   for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
   pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who are they that fear the Lord?
   He will teach them the way that they should choose.

They will abide in prosperity,
   and their children shall possess the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
   and he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever towards the Lord,
   for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
   for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
   and bring me* out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
   and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
   and with what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life, and deliver me;
   do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
   for I wait for you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
   out of all its troubles. Psalm 25


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Well, things have continued to be troubling and Momma is particularly worried these days. Every free moment she has, she spends in sewing things for the baby. Momma has made a small doll and many items of
tiny clothing. She is also making some traveling clothing for me. A 
heavy cloak to cover me as we travel and comfortable items for after delivery.She seems to have tears in her eyes all the time. Joseph and
my Poppa pour over maps and make an itinerary for us to go by. We 
must avoid the main roads, they say, for two reasons. One, the crowds going to register for the taxes will be too great. Second is that they
 are very concerned that men from our village might follow us and 
try to hurt me. We will be doing most of our traveling by night! I 
thought things might get tough, but I never ever expected anything 
like this! The good news is that we have relatives along the way who
 will hide us during the day. I am afraid this trip will be very long and very slow. I do hope I make it back before I have to deliver, but
 Momma doesn't think so. Her tears make me so afraid!

Joseph spends most of his time, when he isn't working, here with 
us. We are trying hard to learn to be a couple. We were almost 
strangers when we hastily were married. He is quite shy and a very gentle man. He never raises his voice to me and loves to laugh 
and sing. I am hopeful that we will be a good, strong couple. We 
will need to be for all God has place on our shoulders! This is not 
normal, nor will it ever be, I imagine. This responsibility will take
all of our strength and patience to see this child brought to the 
world! 

As always, I covet your prayers. And as always, I am praying for 
you, Auntie!

Much love,

Mary








Friday, December 7, 2018

Advent 2 - Mary Letter Day 8




For Sunday, December 9th, 2018  Advent Two



In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius
 Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and 
his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea  and Trachonitis,
 and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas 
and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the 
wilderness. He went into  all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming
 a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness  of sins, as it is written in the
 book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" Luke 3:1-6


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I find myself in a wilderness, a forest thick with no way forward. Everyone is telling
me what is best for me, and yet, I don't know what is truly best for me. I have been
praying night and day. I wait on some sign or visitation but none comes to me. I can
hear my Poppa and Joseph making plans, but are they the right plans. Truly, it will
not matter because they will decide everything for me.  One day I was a girl walking
freely and now I am a danger to the community and a prisoner in my home. I don't
mean to sound pitiful, but I am at the end of my rope. I feel like crying and I often
can't hold back the tears.

Momma has been very gentle these last days. I think she is scared for me, for all of
us, as well. She has some friends of mine stop by the other day, some of whom are
already mothers. She did it very quietly and it was a nice surprise for me. They all
brought me things for the baby. Some of the things were clothing that their babes
had already outgrown They laughed when I told them about the visit of the wise
 women and how embarrassed I was. They assured me that they had been
shocked and horrified as well when they were examined. It felt wonderful to be
with girls my age, even though it was a short visit. It did give me hope that one day
things might just return to normal.

Auntie, I need your prayers, now more than ever! Sometimes I wonder if God will
forgive me for being so afraid and running over with tears. Please keep me close to
your heart as your prepare for the birth of your little one. Both of us have great
challenges ahead of us, I know. Neither of us is living the life we expected.

I hear them calling me for supper. I best not hold up the meal, as Poppa and Joseph
get really cranky if they have to wait.



Much love,


Mary


Endurance - Mary Letter Day 7

For Saturday, Dec 8th



When some were speaking about
 the temple, how it was adorned 
with beautiful stones and gifts 
dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for 
these things that you see, the days
 will come when not one stone 
will be left upon another; all will 
be thrown down.’
 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when 
will this be, and what will be
 the sign that this is about to take 
place?’ And he said, ‘Beware 
that you are not led astray; for many 
will come in my name and 
say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” 
Do not go after them.
 ‘When you hear of wars and 
insurrections, do not be terrified; 
for these things must take place 
first, but the end will not follow
 immediately.’ Then he said to them, 
‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom
 against kingdom; there will be great
 earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and
 there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute
 you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and 
you will be brought before kings and governors because of my 
name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up 
your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will 
give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will
 be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even 
by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will
 put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of
 my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your 
endurance you will gain your souls. Luke 21:5-19


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Today, I have much to write to you about. I feel like
all parts of my life are a trial. I wish I could see that
this will all work out just fine, but there is so much
to be worried about these days.

Poppa and Joseph have been making plans that they
do not include me in. I have been kept aware of what
is going on because Momma is so terribly worried. The
call to register for the tax has gone out, so Joseph and
Poppa think that will be a good way to get us out of
town for a time until things can calm down. Some of 
the men from the synagogue have been very hurtful
to Poppa and Joseph. They told them I should be 
stoned for my behavior! Can you believe it? And it
really seems like they are not going to let up about it.
The men think our going away for a little while will
help things change but I don't see how that can help.
Ignorance and cruelty don't change very easily.

In the meantime, Momma wants to make sure that I am
healthy, so she had some of the wise women come and
examine me. I was so embarrassed!! They checked me 
out everywhere, poking and prodding, acting like they
didn't have to worry about my feelings. I was red as a
beet from embarrassment! It took me hours to get over 
it. The good news is that they think I am very healthy 
and strong and should not be hurt by traveling. After
they got done I wanted to run away for sure!

Auntie, I know following our God is not supposed to be
very easy, but I didn't know it was going to be so hard so
very soon. I ask you to pray for me, for endurance and 
patience. I want to be strong and calm but it sure isn't
very easy. Actually, it get harder every day!

Send me news about your progress and please let me know
when the child has arrived! We pray for you at every meal
and before I lay down for the night.

Love always,

Mary