Both of them were rigteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Luke 1: 6-7 NRSV
There is such an emphasis on children during this season - much of which actually has little to do with the baby in the manger.
Yet, the gospel of Luke begins with the story of a barren woman.
I know several women who are barren. I know of a few more who have suffered the loss of a baby just before or right after birth. I know that this time of year is difficult for them. There are a lot of what-ifs. And a lot of I wonder whys. They have a lot in common with Elizabeth and Zechariah.
In fact, if you have never had a time where you considered yourself barren, there is no way for you to really enter into what was going on in the minds of Zechariah or Elizabeth. They were holy people, righteous before the Lord. They had done all they were supposed to do, yet they had no children. In those days, the blame was usually placed on the mother - in fact the gospel says that Elizabeth herself was the barren one. But both suffered from some sort of public humiliation - there would always be someone out there who would think that they had sinned or fallen short in some way.
Were they still praying for children? Had they given up hope and accepted the life they had? Did they have dreams for their family that they had finally laid to rest?
God enters into their story. God enters into the story of all women who are barren. Maybe they are not to give birth to a child but God promises an everlasting hope and an eternal dream.
God, please be with those who face an empty cradle this Christmas. Fill them with your hope, comfort and courage. Help us to be supportive and sensitive to where they are without being judgmental. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Question of the day: Who do you know who needs hopeful encouragement today?
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims