Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 31 - Light of the World




Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." John 8:12-19 


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

The days here in Bethlehem seem so quiet and yet so complete. The care of a small child is all consuming but I have plenty of help. It is wonderful to have so many women around who dote on him, and I know I will be overwhelmed when I need to care for him by myself. The women are teaching me so much, and day by day I feel stronger and stronger. They don't want me to push too hard, and some almost baby me. Joseph has been busy with the legal things he needs to resolve. Hopefully we will be heading home soon. 

My little one is so amazing. I watch as people look at him. Somehow he lights up their faces, they smile more easily and laugh comfortably in his presence. The children they bring to visit smile and giggle all the time. He has such an influence on people already!  I know most people melt in the presence of a newborn, but I know this baby is extraordinary! I am so blessed and so full of hope and joy these days.

Much love

Mary

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 30 -Shelter



O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more,
it will never be rebuilt.
Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place,
you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.Isaiah 25:1-9  


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Another day of delight and challenge here in the stable.  Our sweet Innkeeper and his wife wanted us to move in to a room in the inn since the crowds have eased up some. But the constables come by and check the registers twice a day now, because our baby is a wanted baby. Do you believe that? What pompous idiot would think a small infant is a threat to a ruler with a mighty army? It is so ridiculous but we are listening to our hosts, knowing that they have experience where we do not. At their instruction Joseph is cautious to go out, except in the twilight. Food is being brought to us and we ache for very little. There is a whole underground network at work here, and so many people are providing for our needs out of the watchful eye of the government. Here, for now, we have safe shelter.

I have to admit that I could stare at this little one for hours. I feel like I know him well already, having shared my body for so long. And yet, here he is right in front of me, and every aspect of him delights me anew. His ears, his tiny, perfect hands, his sleepy eyes, his sweet mouth...all of him amazes me. Joseph and I love nothing more than lying side by side with this precious little one between us. We find ourselves laughing and crying. How blessed we truly are.

Much love,

Mary


Monday, December 29, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 29 - Holy Innocent

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.
"Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost." Matthew 18:1-14 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

The news these days is pretty scary. We have been told that the government is looking for a child born rumored to be the next king. This occupying Roman government is so paranoid that they would believe that a little baby was a threat to their power and control!  This little boy, so sweet and perfect is also so vulnerable and needy. Like all babies, we have to do everything for him. And we do it with joy. Despite the fact that the government is looking for him, they will never find him. The people here are happy to keep our secret. Nobody thinks that the cops would bother looking in a stable for a king. How foolish the rich and powerful are. God always seems to chose out of the way places and people!

The folks around here continue to be so helpful and supportive during my recuperation time. I am able to get out for a few minutes at a time and walk around. I feel very strong. The wise women, who seem to check on me constantly, don't want me to do much at all until I am completely recovered. They are very bossy! But they also are gathering our food, cooking our meals and washing our clothes as well as the baby's diapers! I can never repay their kindness. Somehow they all seem to think this child is special, although I think they behave this way with all new babies and mothers. I feel as if we are guarded by angels and watched over from heaven.Here in this humble little place, hidden away from all the business of life, we are treated with splendid kindness. Please let Momma and Papa know we are well, well beyond our imagining.

love

Mary

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 28 - Word Was God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

it is hard to believe our little boy is three days old. It is as if he has been here all along. It's as if this has always been who we are, the parents of this precious gift from God. Auntie, I will admit that there were days that I had a hard time believing the words of the angel. He was convincing early on, but the trials and hurts we face, the long treacherous journey, well all of that conspired to make me wonder whether I was unstable or confused. Today, it is a clear as can be. This is what we were made for, this is what God has called us to be. The parents and guardians fo the true child of God, the one who will show all of us how to be true children of God.

Amazing things happen every day. The shepherds return on a regular schedule, checking to see how Jesus is doing. Others, strangers, come bringing gifts of food and clothing. We share our food because we have been given so much! It's miraculous that people walking along the road are moved to stop and see the baby, moved to care for us in abundance. Both Joseph and I have no idea how this is happening. The worst circumstance have become a true blessing. People sit and want to pray for us and with us. We feel very humble and often overwhelmed. We cannot help but be grateful for the showering of love from heaven and earth.

Much love

Mary

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 27 - From the Beginning

The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,  the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth — when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always. Proverbs 8:22-30 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

they want me to rest as much as possible. I am surrounded by women with so much advice. I cannot complain because they are doing everything for me - bringing food, watching the baby while I sleep, doing our laundry - they seem thrilled to have us around. As horrible as I thought this experience was going to be, it has turned out to be just the opposite. I decided to write a song of gratitude to God, like King David did long ago. Besides, there's not much else for me to do. Everyone is fussing over us so much!

From the Beginning

So small and hidden away
yet marvelous and wondrous
God has come to a simple stable
to dwell with the meek and lowly.

A small hand with tiny digits
wrapped around a mother's finger
love enfolded in perfect harmony
God has come to dwell with us.

A simple cry and human needs
we are blessed to host the living God
the Lord who does not shun our bodies
willing to live in the humblest of homes.

A mother's love he truly needs
a community of support from strangers
he needs our hands and hearts today
to bring God's love to fullness now.

How blessed and special we feel
for God has chosen us to bring
the living God to all nations now
to nurture the child who would be king.

And yet he is already ruling our hearts
love so deep we are broken open
God's love so marvelous and fine
that we are welcomed and embraced.

Much love,

Mary

 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 26 -My Strong Rock


In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,for you are my crag and my stronghold;for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, for you are my tower of strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O LORD, O God of truth. Psalm 31:1-5
Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I can hardly believe it, I am a mother! These were not the circumstances I had imagined, and I was so upset when the pains came, but everything turned out fine. He is so beautiful and so small. He's perfect. I can spend hours just looking at him and marveling at what God has created. From within me has come this amazing gift. Most of the time Joseph and I just take turns holding him, except when I have to feed him. Joseph is willing to help with everything, and hasn't stopped smiling since the birth!

The wise women have been back since I delivered and have thoroughly checked me out. They say I am fine and that my body is mending well. The Inn keepers wife, Dinah, gathered up diapers and others things needed for the baby. Everyone was so generous. I didn't bring too much with me because I thought I would return home before he was born. But never mind, this is fine and we are having a fabulous time despite the fact that we are in a barn surrounded by cows, pigs, sheep and a few chickens. They have made room for us, as if we belong here and are generally pretty quiet when he is sleeping. Folks from the neighborhood come by to see him. Everyone heard of the shepherds visiting and want to see for themselves. The star rising had made them even more curious, as it seems to have settled over us at night. It all feels very miraculous and wonderful.

Auntie, I am sorry if I didn't trust God with all of this. It was so hard on the road, so far from home, so confusing and frustrating. Somehow now it seems to make some sense. I am sure you feel the same way. They have sent word to Momma and Papa and hopefully they will come to see us here. I am told not to take another trip until my body is healed more.

Much love

Mary

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 25 - For Unto Us

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,"Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:1-20

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Well the world has changed completely.  Yesterday, while waiting for Joseph to return, the cramps and pains got more regular, and then there was water everywhere! I didn't know what to do! I did not want to have this child in a barn, among cows and pigs who were already disturbed by us. Joseph returned before I could completely fall apart with two wise women who really knew what to do. They sent him to the inn to gather cloths, fresh water and the innkeeper's wife. While he was out they examined me and told me I was close to delivery! I was shocked and certainly not prepared for that. The two women, Naomi and Sarah, were very comforting and supportive. I will never forget them! They got me into a comfortable position and then helped me breathe when the pains came on strong. I don't know how the time went by, nor did I care where I was, finally. I only wanted the baby to come and be born healthy. They helped me to feel safe despite being so far from home. They recited Psalms of David and helped Joseph by having him recite them too.

Oh Elizabeth, it was awful and wonderful all at the same time. The pain was wrenching and overwhelming, but then, as they guided my son out into the world,  such joy swept over me. He was perfect and beautiful! As he gave his first cry, I too started to cry with such joy and thankfulness. Joseph joined us in a chorus of weeping. A little family watched over by the wise women, the cows and the pigs. I was tended to by the women - they cleaned me up, made sure I was healthy, and then they gave me something to eat. By then it was very late at night but I had lost all track of time!

Shortly after the women had gone home, we had other visitors. A group of shepherds, with their dogs and sheep in tow, stopped by to see the child. They told us a remarkable story. As they lay resting in the fields, angels visited them and told them about our little boy. They came running to tell us that he was the Prince of Peace. I got chills all over as they told us the angels used the same words that Angel Gabriel had used when he visited me. Despite these awful conditions and terrible timing, the child of God, the Incarnate God lies here sleeping in this humble stable. And I can hold him close and feel the sweet breath of God so close. I am so happy. We are so happy. What's next will just have to be up to God, since nothing I planned has worked out.

Much love to you from this humble, holy moment

love Mary

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mary letter - Day 24 - Bring You Home


I will take you from among all nations; and gather you from all lands to bring you home.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you; and purify you from false gods and uncleanness.
A new heart I will give you and a new spirit put within you.
I will take the stone heart from your chest and give you a heart of flesh.
I will help you walk in my laws and cherish my commandments and do them.
You shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Canticle: A Song of Ezekiel
Ezekiel 36:24-28

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

We made it to Bethlehem but it is so crowded here! It's like nothing I have ever seen before. People everywhere, like a murmuring sea, and lots of pushing and shoving. People jostling and shouting, and nowhere for us to stay. I have had some pains, although I am not due for another few weeks.  Joseph is so panicked that he arranged for us to stay in the barn of an inn. He is so afraid for me and the baby. I am sure these pains will stop. I am sure it is just the crowds and the noise because all this excitement can't be good for me. I just want to make it home to deliver this child. I want to be with Momma and Papa when he comes. I want to be home, right now actually. The pains are coming every ten minutes or so and Joseph has sent for some wise women that the Inn keeper's wife knows. Unfortunately, it means he has left me alone with the cows and the pigs. It smells atrocious, but I guess it is warm. They have made a little bed of straw for me, which is remarkably comfortable, but the cows are not happy with me, laying on their feed. Someone from the inn has brought me some tea, and they promise to check on me until Joseph returns.

Auntie, I want to get home so I can share the joy with Momma and Papa. They have suffered so much I think that  this new life, promised by God will bring them new life too. I can't think too clearly right now, but I just know it's going to be wonderful. Today I feel kind of miserable, but I am sure it will be better soon. Pray for us, so that these false pains will subside and I can make it home with my husband. I hope he doesn't take too much longer as things keep getting worse when he's not around.

love to all

Mary.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 23 -A Pilgrimage


Before I ventured forth,even while I was very young, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.
In the forecourts of the temple I asked for her, and I will seek her to the end.
From first blossom to early fruit, she has been the delight of my heart.
My foot has kept firmly to the true path, diligently from my youth have I pursued her.
I inclined my ear a little and received her; I found for myself much wisdom and became adept in her.
To the one who gives me wisdom will I give glory, for I have resolved to live according to her way.
From the beginning I gained courage from her, therefore I will not be forsaken.
In my inmost being I have been stirred to seek her, therefore have I gained a good possession.
As my reward the Almighty has given me the gift of language, and with it will I offer praise to God.
Canticle:  A Song of Pilgrimage
Ecclesiasticus 51:13-16, 20b-22

Dear Auntie Elizabeth,

I had promised to write every day! I am so sorry! When we got to the outskirts of Bethlehem, the crowds were overwhelming. I couldn't believe it, there was so much jostling, pushing and shoving as we got close to the edge of the city. I got very sick then and Joseph had to to find us somewhere to stay for the night. He thought maybe the baby was coming but maybe it was just exhaustion. I couldn't lift my head for the pounding and I slept for hours. I finally felt like eating this morning, but we have lost a whole day. I am so ashamed! I feel so fragile and I know I am not. Today we will set out and secure a place in Bethlehem so that Joseph can take care of his business. It may take longer than we planned on.

I ask that you all pray for me. I am feeling very vulnerable and sad. Maybe because I am so far from Momma, or maybe it is the length of this journey. I never expected we'd be gone so long. I just want to get home to have this baby! I am so scared right now and wishing God would make me stronger. 

All my love,

Mary

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 21 - Nothing is Impossible






In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

We have only a few more miles and we will reach the outskirts of the city. We have been more relaxed and happy since we came back onto the Bethlehem road. It is terribly crowded and people are rude and pushy. We have to go slow so we stay to the side and stop quite often. I tire easily and have to get down and rest quite often. Joseph doesn't seem as anxious anymore. He has been very affectionate and seems excited to visit the city. The gloom has disappeared from his face, and that makes me smile.

Last night I had a very powerful dream. I saw the angel Gabriel again, and he reminded me not to be afraid. He said that all would be well for the rest of our journey and God would guide us every step. I sat straight up, thinking I was awake and at home. I then woke up and looked around. It was just a little room at a stopping place, very simple and very basic. It was not home but for awhile I was so filled with the sense of the angel's presence that I couldn't get back to sleep. I lit a candle and tiptoed around, not trying to wake Joseph. I sat in the one chair in the room, holding my huge belly, wondering about that dream. I had goosebumps all over! I must have fallen asleep in the chair for I woke up as the morning light reached into the window. A day or two more and we can do what we need to do and return home to have this child!

love

Mary





The Collect
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 20 - Lean On the Lord



On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on the one who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in all the earth.
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: O my people, who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they beat you with a rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my indignation will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. The LORD of hosts will wield a whip against them, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb; his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. On that day his burden will be removed from your shoulder, and his yoke will be destroyed from your neck. Isaiah 10:20-27 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

It was a less stressful day and we ran into friends from our village. They told us that the men who were looking for us had given up and headed home. We joined them for several miles before I tired and we had to find a place to rest. We sang this song, together, as we walked, and it made me happy for the first time in a long time. 

We will lean on the Lord
those who would hurt us
lost on the dusty road
we will no longer be afraid. 

We will not be afraid 
The Lord God is with us
we are blessed children
and we are hidden in the heart of God.

Today is filled with light
we have forgotten the pain
the shame of the past
is like a silly murky dream.

We will not be afraid 
The Lord God is with us
we are blessed children
and we are hidden in the heart of God.

We are settled for the night in a soft bed, after both washing and putting on fresh clothes. Joseph spent too much on this, but we felt we needed a clean room and a chance to rest well. I am so sleepy, I will have to write again tomorrow.

Much love

Mary

 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 19 - Hear My Cry

 I waited patiently upon the LORD; you stooped to me and heard my cry.
You lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; you set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.
You put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many shall see, and stand in awe, and put their trust in the LORD.
Happy are they who trust in the LORD! they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods.
Great things are they that you have done, O LORD my God! how great your wonders and your plans for us! there is none who can be compared with you.
Oh, that I could make them known and tell them! but they are more than I can count.
In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure (you have given me ears to hear you);
Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required, and so I said, "Behold, I come.
In the roll of the book it is written concerning me: 'I love to do your will, O my God;
your law is deep in my heart.'"
I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I did not restrain my lips;
and that, O LORD, you know.
Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance; I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.
You are the LORD; do not withhold your compassion from me; let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever,
For innumerable troubles have crowded upon me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me.
Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it; let them draw back and be disgraced who take pleasure in my misfortune.
 Let those who say "Aha!" and gloat over me be confounded, because they are ashamed.
Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; let those who love your salvation continually say,
"Great is the LORD!"
 Though I am poor and afflicted, the Lord will have regard for me.
You are my helper and my deliverer; do not tarry, O my God. Psalm 40


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I try to start every day hopeful and prayerful. The night in the cave was long and it took me a good long time to fall asleep. The creatures around us made noises I had never heard and the baby was active every few hours. But I got up and made us some breakfast before we set out. Joseph had made a fire and it lasted through the night, so we were able to have some warm food for a change. Unfortunately the day went downhill from there.

We followed the path we had been given, a slow crawl through the hills and around ridges. Sometimes we could glimpse the main road. My was it crowded, but moving still much faster than we were able. As we were coming across one rocky outcropping, the donkey lost his footing. I went sliding off his back and bumped down about  20 feet before I rolled another 20. I was stopped by another small outcropping, and boy was I grateful. I could have fallen much further! Joseph came sliding down after me and wouldn't let me move for a good long time. He was worried and furious all at the same time. I wasn't hurt except for a few bumps and bruises. Thank God! And the baby is moving and active, so I suppose he is alright too. We set up camp in a level place nearby and gave up trying to travel for the rest of the day.

Joseph has decided that we have to move to the main road tomorrow. He said he understands that people might still be looking for us, but that if we move mostly in the darkness and stay inside during the height of the day, we should be ok. He is so worried about me and the baby. He doesn't think this way will make us any safer in the long run. In the morning he will leave me here and find a place for us to rest along the main Bethlehem road until the twilight and we can move more easily. I think it's a good plan. We have only each other and we have to trust that God will keep us safe. This hiding has been more dangerous than we could have imagined.

I am very weary right now so I will say goodnight for now. Please pray for us. We want to do God's will and some days it feels as if we are not up to the challange!
love

Mary



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 18 - To Whom Will You Flee?



For wickedness burned like a fire, consuming briers and thorns; it kindled the thickets of the forest, and they swirled upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire; no one spared another.
They gorged on the right, but still were hungry, and they devoured on the left, but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred; Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
and together they were against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away; his hand is stretched out still. Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey!
What will you do on the day of punishment, in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth, so as not to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;his hand is stretched out still. Isaiah 9:18-10:4 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

we finally got back on our way, having gotten help from the kind elders who housed us. It took a while for us to get back to where we were supposed to be, and the going is very treacherous. I know the men wanted to spare us from any further attacks, but sometimes the road itself is a real danger. I was hanging on for dear life as we skirted along the mountain passes. It is windy and cold, and I felt so tossed and ragged by the time we rested for the day. It seems like it is taking forever and I wish we could travel on the better roads. When we finally got to a stopping place for the night, every muscle in my body was sore and aching.  Joseph tried to rub my muscles, but then I started to cry. He drew away. I didn't mean to scare or upset him. I just missed Momma terribly then and the sweet salve she used to rub on me as a child. I am a grown woman and I still want my mother. What is wrong with me? Fortunately, he has already fallen asleep, so weary from walking these challenging paths.

Tomorrow we will continue on our way. I hope the time to Bethlehem isn't too long. We are camped for the night in a deep cave, and I can barely sleep the baby is making me restless and I can't get comfortable. There are shepherds in the fields below us who promised to keep watch for us since they will be up all night, watching their charges. All these poor folks on the margins, and yet they are so generous and kind. Why are the supposedly faithful people of our hometown ready to hurt us, while poor strangers make us welcome? Where would we go, if we didn't have the help of outcasts? I pray that God will give me insight into all of this. In the meantime, I will try to get some sleep so I can be cheerful for the next part of the journey. Joseph deserves so much more than me weeping and whining all the time.

love

Mary

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mary letter - Day 17 - In the Wilderness


The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
   “Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight” ’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’Mark 1:1-8


Dear Auntie,

 We got very, very lost today. Despite all of the plans and the maps that we were given, all the preparation that came before, we still managed to get lost. I had already sensed something was wrong when Joseph got very silent for a very long time. He's not a big talker, mind you, but for the most part, when we are traveling, we manage to keep each other company and chat as we go. But today there was a long silence. When I finally asked Joseph to stop because my back was hurting, he yelled at me. I was so shocked! He's mostly so gentle and patient that I couldn't believe it. Here we were in the wilderness and my husband is yelling at me. I started to cry like a little girl. He was so apologetic then, I thought he might cry too. He admitted we were lost, and he could not find seem to get his bearings.

We sat for awhile, holding each other, both sorry for falling apart. Both feeling very lost. There was silence between us but it was finally not tense. I opened up one of the food bundles and made us a little meal right there, out in the middle of nowhere. As the sun was low in the sky, we thought we might have to camp there. Just as the sun was setting, an old man wandered by, and invited us to his home for the night. There it was, his little home,  a small dwelling not a  quarter mile away. We had not seen it before. His wife welcomed us in. They were both ancient, wrinkled all over but very bright still. They seemed happy to come across two young people needing help! It was as if the Holy Spirit were guiding us, despite ourselves. Auntie, it seems that when I give up hope, when we are totally and completely lost, somehow God finds us and puts us back on our way. This little one must have some life ahead of him.  For tonight, I will rest my aching back and be grateful for the intervention of our loving Creator. There is so much more road ahead!

much love,

Mary

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mary Letter -Day 16 - Light Has Shined



But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:1-7 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

We are making progress on our journey but it is very slow. The route we are taking is complicated and the terrain is rough. The road along the Jordan River would be much easier.  We have been warned not to go that way because it is very crowded,  and the people looking for us would look there. We are also traveling some at night, both to avoid the heat of the day and not to be seen. Last night as we set out I was very worried. It was hard to see and the poor donkey was bouncing me all over the place. Then the sky seemed to explode with stars, and it was if God was sending light from the heavens. My little child kicked and wiggled inside of me, as if to celebrate the gift of light. Auntie, I am learning to be grateful for small things. It's as if the baby is showing me the way. Maybe I am just growing up.

We didn't get very far last night but are sheltered here by friends of Miriam. They are all shepherds, living rough, but they have tents for their families and made room for us. Joseph was given very specific instructions on who to seek out when we needed to rest. They have been very kind to share their small spaces with us. I fell asleep last night, nestled in my husband's arms and looking up at the brilliant night sky. How wondrous and mysterious are the works of God!

love

Mary

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 15 - Consider the Poor


Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive; they are called happy in the land. You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed;  in their illness you heal all their infirmities.

Happy are those who consider the poor; the
As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.’
My enemies wonder in malice when I will die, and my name perish.
And when they come to see me, they utter empty words, while their hearts gather mischief;
   when they go out, they tell it abroad. All who hate me whisper together about me;
   they imagine the worst for me.


They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,  that I will not rise again from where I lie.
Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.
But you, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them.


By this I know that you are pleased with me; because my enemy has not triumphed over me.
But you have upheld me because of my integrity;and set me in your presence for ever.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.Amen and Amen. Psalm 41



Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

we got on the road again today, although our route now is complicated and circumspect to avoid trouble. We set out today, as if we were going to the market, but then we doubled back and climbed the hills behind  Miriam's home. We climbed and walked for several hours, then stopped for the night in a small hut which they knew about. We were sent with provisions - oh, they have been so kind! After a simple meal of dates and bread we settled down for the night.

As we were climbing, we came across a small boy herding a large flock of sheep. He was dirty and ill-clad. I asked him if he had anything to eat or drink. He said he had finished everything he was given to eat some time ago. We gave him some food and water from our very generous provisions from Miriam. My heart broke for this little boy, who dove into the food like a wilds animal. I couldn't help but think of the dream I had and also of young King David. The shepherds of Judea are treated so badly.  They are so necessary to our lives and yet we push them away from our towns and make them live such hardscrabble, cruel existences. The little boy spoke with us a bit after eating and then fell asleep under the shade of a tree. He looked too small to be left on his own, with his scruffy dog curled up next to him. Joseph said we had to move on before nightfall and so we did. The image of the scrawny little boy, so brave and wise for his years,  will linger with me for a long time,

It is time for sleep. The thin straw mats are no match for our recent comfort but the climb made it so that I could sleep anywhere. The stars are bright tonight as I write to you. I remember fondly the nights by the fire looking up at the stars with you and talking with excitement about the children to come. It seemed so simple then. Goodnight, Auntie!

love

Mary



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 14 - Crying in the Wilderness - Advent 3



There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, `Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Word was sent today from Momma and Papa. They are fine but concerned about us because people are looking for us. Men from the temple, good, faithful believers would have us punished or put to death! A young man had run all the way at night, making sure he wasn't followed.  Samuel is an old friend, we have grown up together. When I first saw him I thought something terrible had happened to Momma or Papa and I started to cry. I don't know what's wrong with me. I sobbed my eyes out. Samuel had to wait a long time before they could calm me down and he could deliver the letter they had sent. I was embarrassed afterwards. And I also realized that I hadn't been very nice to my parents before we left. I am a swirl of regret and anxiety here in the strange place out in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, after I got settled down and Joseph read the letter out loud, we sat and talked about the journey ahead. The people from our village know we are going to Bethlehem so we can't take the usual route that others will be taking. I cried again alone with Joseph who did his best to comfort me. Our trip will take so much longer! I want to be home with Momma when my time comes! Auntie, everything seems so hard and so challenging! Why would God make religious people hate us? And why is it so hard after saying yes to God? I know there are no good answers right now. I just wish it was a bit easier. I'm sorry I sound like I whining child. That's how I feel some days.

 I will let you know where we are and how we get on. I just don't know what the plan is yet. The men are looking at maps and huddled together at the table right now. Send my love to your sweet baby, John. More than ever, we need your prayers.

Much love

Mary






Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 13 - A New Morning

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,  and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O Lord,
   you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: ‘What profit is there in my death,
   if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you?  Will it tell of your faithfulness?  Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!’

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth
   and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
   O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you for ever. Psalm 30

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

For some reason I woke this morning with joy in my heart. The baby was very active and as day was breaking, it was if he was dancing in the sunlight. I feel much stronger than I have in several days. We had a huge breakfast - I swear Miriam is trying to make me explode! Today we talked about continuing our journey now that both of us have healed and been rested. They have been so kind to us here that it would be very tempting to stay. None of the arguments and anxiety from home have followed us here. I pray for Momma and Papa all the time, knowing they have had a huge burden to  bear. But they also treated me like a child most often, when now I am grown, married and obviously pregnant.

Joseph and I have more alone talked about getting back to our journey. We need to find our way to Bethlehem and back before the child arrives. The woman Rachel comes to see me several times a day. She thinks my delivery date  will be sooner than we had thought. Makes it all the more important for us to get on the road. After I told Joseph what Rachel had said about what to expect during the birth, he is even more anxious to get underway! The last thing he wants to do is deliver a baby! So, Auntie, we will get underway again soon, But for now, I am reveling in the simple joys a sunny day brings. Haven't felt this happy and relaxed in a good long time. And I know I have gained weight while I have been here! I only hope the little one is being fed and strengthened for the journey.

Much love,

Mary

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mary Letter -Day 12 -Lead Me And Guide Me





 In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
  Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me.
 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; 
 for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, 
 for you are my tower of strength.
Into your hands I commend my spirit, 
 for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth. Psalm 31



Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

This has been a good day for the most part. Miriam and her husband Daniel have been very kind to both of us. Daniel has kept Joseph very busy with all sorts of projects. It was like he had been waiting for Joseph to come and had the list already made up! It does make Joseph feel good to use his skills and to be so useful. Daniel praises him a good deal and Joseph has been smiling more than in many days. Some woman came to visit Miriam today. The woman Rachel, who examined me yesterday was with them. I was afraid she was going to make me undress again but she just laid her hands on my belly. She was very gentle and kind and assured me that all was well and that I was healing well. They let me get u[ and sit with the women. Most of them were older than I am but we talked and laughed together while the men worked.

Elizabeth, I know we have to get on the road but I am surely enjoying the comfort and protection of this place.It has none of the anxiety, tears and worry that were everywhere at home. I felt vulnerable all the time and we were all exhausted. I am so grateful to have been led to this place, despite the fact that we came here bleeding and terrified. It feels like a stronghold, a safe place to hide for a bit. Tonight, after supper, we sat outside in their courtyard, which is surrounded by rocky hills and listen to some young men play music in the distance. It was a sweet moment of relaxation. We have a long road ahead so tonight was like a little gift. Calm in the midst of storm. Please keep praying, as I know you do. Everyday brings challenges and blessings, sometimes more than I am able to handle.

love,

Mary

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 11- Be Still

Do not fret because of the wicked;
   do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
   and wither like the green herb.


Trust in the Lord, and do good;
   so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Commit your way to the Lord;
   trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.


Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.


Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
   Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. Psalm 37:1-9



Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Today was very quiet. Miriam wouldn't even let me get out of bed. She tended to my wounds, which are small and brought me soup and things to eat all day. There is not much room in my belly these days but she insisted that I eat. She also brought her friend in to visit me. Rachel is one of the women who delivers babies in this village. The two of them made me undress and they examined me. I was so embarrassed! Momma had tried to explain these things to me before I left but I really didn't understand. Now, I think I understand all too well. Yuck! I am not sure I can do this, let alone explain to Joseph what needs to be done if my time come early, before we get home. I am so glad the men were outside working on a project. I still get embarrassed just thinking about it!

The good news is that I am in good shape and nothing of yesterday's trauma seemed to hurt the baby. They want me to be still for a few days to make sure that I am strong enough for the journey ahead. No one knows me here so it is quite lonely. At the same time, these folks are very kind and the village is small and very safe. Miriam has brought me some handwork to help her with. I think she is just trying to keep me busy. After yesterday, I really don't mind. I am very tired and the bed they made for me is very soft. I think I will remember some of the ancient psalms, recite them and fall fast asleep.

much love

Mary


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mary Letter -Day 10 - Condemned


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 Aunt Elizabeth,

well this day has been almost more than I can handle. We were supposed to be at a friend of widow Johanna's home early today. We had just started out from our resting place when there was some shouting and carrying on behind us. It turned out several men from our village had followed us and were shouting terrible things at us. They called me a prostitute and sinner and picked up stones to throw. They raised their arms and we fled. It was a terribly frightening!  Joseph somehow made the donkey move fast and we got away from them, hiding in an olive grove. Some local people here stopped them before they followed us. We were all terrified, including the donkey. It wasn't until after things had quieted down that we realized both of us were bleeding. We had been hit by stones and didn't even know. Joseph was hit on the side of the face and I was struck on the back of my head.

The local people told us to move on for our safety. We did finally make our way to the friend's house. We will have to stay here for a few days. The assault has made me very sick. These nice folks have tended our wounds and gave us a place to stay for as long as we need it. The woman of the house, Miriam, doesn't want me to travel for a while. You can see the worry on her face. She sat with me and prayed with me. I wish I could know what to do but all's I can do is cry. Sometimes I sleep, but only for a while.

Please pray for us. It feels sometimes like God is far off. I know that is not true, but being so wounded and traumatized, it is so hard to be strong. We will be here for several days and Joseph will make some repairs for them in return for our lodging. He is quite talented and has been very steady on this journey. 

love

Mary

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 9 - Signs


 ‘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 21:25-28

Dear Auntie,

I am writing you from about a mile from my parents' house. We set out in the middle of the night so we could get out of town before the baby comes. The was lovely on our way, making our path clear. The night was dark enough so that we could make some distance before daybreak. Now we are resting under a huge tree, having a light breakfast and waiting for the heat of the day to pass. We will travel again in the late afternoon for a short time. I don't last very long riding, so much swaying and bumping! It makes me sick to my stomach. Walking too is tiring also. Joseph is very fearful for me and for the baby. He always looks so concerned but he doesn't say too much. I'm sure Momma and Papa gave him so many instructions that he is terribly anxious. I know I am.

Momma and Papa cried as we left. They hope we will return before the baby comes. I am not sure I can last that long. They think by the time we get back, people will back off from us since we are married. They might cluck their tongues but we hope things will subside.

This is my first trip away from home. How different each little parcel of land is! So many little houses, some similar to our and some not like ours at all. Last night there were shepherds out on the hills with their sheep. The ones awake waves to us and wished us well. Maybe that is what everyone does. It seemed so nice. Having never traveled I don't know what to expect. Joseph has traveled so little that he is very little help. All the signs along the way seem to indicate we are doing the right thing. I wonder but am trusting that God has a plan for us in the coming days.

Love

Mary

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 8 - Hopeful Heart

A Song of Hannah
My heart exults in you, O God; my triumph song is lifted in you.
My mouth derides my enemies,  for I rejoice in your salvation.
There is none holy like you,  nor any rock to be compared to you, our God.
Do not heap up prideful words or speak in arrogance;  Only God is knowing and weighs all actions.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the weak are clothed in strength.
Those once full now labor for bread, those who hungered now are well fed.
The childless woman has borne sevenfold, while the mother of many is forlorn.
God destroys and brings to life, casts down and raises up; gives wealth or takes it away, humbles and dignifies.
God raises the poor from the dust; and lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with the rulers and inherit a place of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are God's on which the whole earth is founded. 1 Samuel 2:1-8

Dear Auntie,

it seems the day has come.We will be setting out late tonight or early in the morning. We have to leave the village before the sun is up. Papa has bought us a donkey and fitted it with packs for our travel. Joseph and Papa have made arrangements for the magistrate (Joseph's uncle) to come over this evening to marry us. We can't have any celebration before we leave, but at least we leave as husband and wife. As my husband, he can also help with the family taxes that need to be paid in Bethlehem.

It seems like yesterday that I was a silly girl, laughing and giggling with my friends. Now I am to be married tonight and I am so fat and round, I don't even look like a bride. At least, it is not as I imagined it. My wedding will be in our parents house, in our traveling clothes, with no party or anything. Momma promises that when we return they will have a great feast for us. She has been so tearful and sad. She doesn't want me to go away, but she does know it is for the best. She is afraid I will not get back before the baby comes. She wants to be part of it. I promised Momma I would keep in touch. Now I will be writing to both of you. Please pray for us. I excited and scared all at the same time and don't know what I am getting myself into.

Much love

Mary

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mary Letter - Day 7 - Comfort



Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,that she has received from the LORD's handdouble for all her sins.A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
A voice says, "Cry out!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?" All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God! See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. Isaiah 40:1-11
 
Dear Aunt Elizabeth,
 
today was a horrible day. I am finally able to write to you late at night by candle light since Papa and Mamma have finally gone to bed. Today it became very clear that I will have to leave here for our safety. Joseph came early in the morning to make plans with Papa. I tried to go outside and sit in the sun but they would not allow me out of the house. I cannot go out again until we begin our journey. And that will be in the middle of the night so no one finds out. 
 
As Joseph and Papa were talking, Momma and I made some bread and soup. It was a hard conversation to hear, but I accept that we have no other choice. All of the sudden a rock came flying through our window. Several others followed. We ducked and hid under the table but not fast enough.  One struck Momma on the head. She bled some but it stopped quickly and she said she was going to be fine. Papa's face told another story. He has aged so much since I started to show. It cannot go on like this. We know this. I wish I had you here to throw your arms around me. Momma tried but she starts to cry for fear. I do understand. It is too much for them.

We  will be going in the next few days. I don't know exactly but it will surely be under cover of darkness. I will write when I can and send word when the baby comes. Please play for Momma and Papa especially. They carry such a heavy load.

Much love,

Mary
 
 
 
 Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.