Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 8


Jesus said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28

Dear Auntie,

I am so frightened! Last night old friends of my parents stopped by after returning from a trip to the cities. They told us that there are armed soldiers everywhere and they said it felt like a city at war. Little Bethlehem wasn't much better. The official word is that the soldiers are there for crowd control since so many will be flooding in to be registered. They recommended that we be very circumspect as we travel. We too will join that crowd in a war zone! Pappa and Joseph stayed up late last night plotting our trip and trying to figure the safest way for us to go. Of course, they excluded me from the conversation. I could help and I will be one of the two people traveling!

I am getting larger and larger by the day. I have totally lost my center of gravity and balance is a big problem, as is getting up from a chair. I am also growing very pale as I am inside so much. When I try to go outside in the sunshine Mama blocked the door with her substantial body. I may be big right now but I am no match for Mama!

Please keep us in your prayers as it looks we will be going sooner than later. The trip is now longer with stops with relatives and friends along the way. I really want to get there quickly so I can get home to have this child, but the men seem to know what's best for me. I'm praying for patience!

much love,

Mary

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary letter day 7




ln those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the
prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist,
 and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and
 all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they
 were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism,
 he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee
 from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as
our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to
 raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at
 the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear
 good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is
more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy
to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy
 Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and
 he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his
wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn
with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-12

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am sorry I didn't write yesterday. I got to sit
 outside in the early morning and was
enjoying the song of the birds and the
 gentle breeze when I became quite faint.
Mama rushed to my side and made me
 go right to bed, refusing to let me up at all.
She fed me broth and worried over me all
day and into the night. Her recent anger has
 turned to worry, for which I am grateful.
 I wasn'the sick, but just dizzy. I guess she
thought the babe might be coming. All is
well though, and Joseph was here all day
 as well. They'really finally making room for
 him,  as he is my husband.

I got up today and washed myself. Auntie,
 I cannot believe how huge my belly is!
 The babe likes to kick a good bit but he
 must be squashed up inside me. It is all
 such a mystery, such a blessing, and also
 so confusing. At least for us. Following  God
 demands such patience, such trust in the
 dark and a willingness to go blindly forward.
 I know you can understand.  At least your
 husband was silent throughout your
 pregnancy!  I've got people telling me
 what to do and how to do it every minute
 of the day. I think they believe they are
 helping, but sometimes, it is such a pain!
 Well, I best get back to my preparations  .
 We have a big journey ahead and I am huge
 -such a challenge for us all.

Love forever,

Mary

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 6


Then Jesus said to them, “How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:41 – 21:4 


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

These days have been very trying and often thrilling at the same time.  We learned yesterday that the leaders of the synagogue are planning to punish us in some way. Fortunately, we don't have a verdict yet. Mama and Poppa are trying to be very clam and prayerful but it can be too much some days. They are beginning to look to relatives that could keep us until the baby comes. They want us somewhere safe and fear the wrath of the people in our village, people we have known all of our lives. Can you imagine, one day you have dear friends and next they treat us as the enemy?

On the other hand, Old Delilah, the widow how has no means and is our town's charity case arrived at our door. Mama got ready to give her some food but she refused. She wanted to see me. Mama brought her into my room where I was resting. She asked us both to sit for she had something to say that was very important. She's a little touched, so we played along but didn't think much of it. She then knelt down beside me, kissed my hand and told us she had a dream. She said that she saw the child, perfect and sweet and he was a prince and I was a queen. She told me she had heard me called the queen of heaven. Can you imagine? Then, she took my hand again and placed several silver coins in my hand. She said God told her I would know how to use it on the upcoming journey. And then she got up and left after telling me never to be afraid! Mama and I were shocked, we could barely get words out and she was gone. A years worth of money for a poor widow and she gave it to me. Tears came, for both of us. Mama tried to find her later, but no one had seen her in the village.

Auntie, God is always surprising us and as soon as we find ourselves in horrible circumstance, we are also given a tremendous blessing that give us hope for the future. It is truly a puzzle but I know that God is good, and I want to get better at trusting completely.

much love

Mary

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 5


Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question. Luke 20:27-40 

Dear Auntie,

I am both grateful and a little annoyed that you did not explain what the midwives do. Now I know and I have to say I am a bit overwhelmed and totally embarrassed.  Without any notice, these women can barging into our house (I found out later Mama had arranged this all), told me to undress and began examining me. They put their hands in places - oh, I am still too embarrassed to say - and touched me all over. Mama stood smiling in the corner of my room while they went over me thoroughly - and I mean Thoroughly - and pronounced that I was due in less than a month. Three weeks tops, they said! I knew it was getting close but I really didn't know how close it was going to be. They will be present when I deliver, they said and Mama agreed. Mama doesn't think our trip will happen before they baby comes. I'm still blushing all over.

Afterwards, Joseph came by and I told him about the wise women who visit - not in graphic detail, I admit. He held me and we laughed a little at my awkwardness and their thoroughness. Then he told me that we might have to leave sooner than he thought. The baby is coming and we might have to be on the road. Oh, I have to go with him as he is my husband, but now I'm really scared. Mama and Poppa asked at supper if there wasn't some way to delay or postpone the trip. Joseph said he would try to find out but that the government seemed very strict and insistent. What we don't need is trouble with the law as if we aren't in enough of a mess as it is.

Thank you Aunt Elizabeth for your nice letter and encouraging words. It sounds like baby John is the delight of your heart. I know this little one will be my delight. I keep holding on to the promises of God.

love always,

Mary

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 4


Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 




Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am now under the equivalent of house arrest. My parents want me to stay indoors, at least during the day, to protect me from the attacks of local people. They used to love us and now, because of me, even my parents have to be careful. The good news is that it is almost winter and the days are shorter. I go outside at night before bed, say my prayers and look at the stars. They were abundant last night, reminding me of God's promises. Like the stars, those promises seem very far away.

Mama has decided to focus on preparing me for the journey. She is very upset, but the sewing and handwork at least gives her something to concentrate on. She has talked privately to a few women that still remain our friends. They are going to help me get ready for the trip to Bethlehem. Tomorrow they will come and sew with Mama, bringing things they have left from their babies to loan to me. Their friendship really bolsters my mother's faith, as these are women who say they believe that God is using me. There are always a few good people, despite the anger and fear of the rest of the village.

I keep remembering the Psalms we used to sing and pray. The words of this psalm keep running around in my head. "I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep: for you only, Lord, make me dwell in safety." Auntie, I cling to these words like clinging to a solid rock. They help me see light in the darkness. When the baby stirs and kicks, I can only think of you and your big belly and the kicks of your son. You and your faith give me great hope. Remember to pray for me and especially for my parents. They carry such a heavy burden these days.

love

Mary

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 3


Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Heaven forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” Luke 20:9-18

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I was out hanging laundry with Mama today. The sun was warm but not too hot and it was lovely and peaceful for a moment as we worked together. We talked about nothing important and it felt so nice and sweet after all that has happened. We were even singing together a bit - how about that? She has been so stressed and I know she is angry with me. I can tell that by how silent she has been. But for a moment this morning, standing out in the sun amidst the freshly wash sheets swinging in the breeze I felt everything was going to be all right. How I wished that feeling had lasted a bit longer.

As we were at our work, some young men from the village passed by. They started saying terrible things about me, one after another, one worse than the preceding one. It was as if the grew bolder with each taunt. Mama got very afraid and screamed to me to go inside. I ran and fell as I was going but nothing was hurt but my feeling. Mama went out and confronted them and Poppa came along to help her. Now they want to keep me inside all the time for my own safety. Am I to be a prisoner for something God has done? \

I am so sad that I cannot eat even. I've taken to my bed. Please pray since I have lost all my strength today.

Love,

Mary




Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 2


One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Luke 20:1-8

Dear Auntie,

So this happened today. Joseph came running over to our house, almost bursting in, and wanted to talk to me right away. He was nearly in tears! I have never seen him this way, really. He has gotten word that we will have to travel down to Bethlehem to be registered. Going to that dirty, bustling city is a challenge at normal times but this is anything but normal. On top of everything else, I have to travel with him while carrying this child for the registration! I will be so big when we go and I was so hoping to have Mama by my side. Now everything is a mess - again, some more. Poppa and Mama are in tears as well, since going to Bethlehem will be a hard journey for me at the end of my time and I could die. The household is in an upheaval and I just want to crawl under the covers and hide.

Aunt Elizabeth, I know you would come if you could to see me. I know you have you hands full with other things. Your positive outcome gives me hope today. The people around me, who are supposed to be helping me are acting like they're the ones who are pregnant. They act like they're the ones who have to waddle around, weighted down by this new life, looking like some sideshow rather than a young woman. None of my friends come to visit me now, like they used to. My growing belly has frightened them away.

Please pray for me, and for us. We will find a way forward but today seems very bleak. The sky decided to darkened and pour down rain, as if it knows how troubled our lives truly are today. And if there is anything you can do to comfort Mama, I would be so grateful. She seems so old and weary these days. And please write to me. Hearing from you always restores my hope.

love

Mary