Coming Alongside (21-12-20)
Bible Reading: Luke 1:39-45
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,
where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed:
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!"
We had a phone call last week from Eddie, a member of one of our former congregations in Rotherham, to say that he had been selected to train for ordination. This is the culmination of a long process which he says started from a conversation in the lounge of our former vicarage, but which in reality started many years before that, in the developing relationship between him and God.
It had been a real privilege to mentor Eddie over the years, since he joined us as a young single guy, a similar age to our own children, to see his faith and ministry grow, to preside at his wedding to Nicola and to baptise his three young children. It made me think of Frank, the vicar of the church in Tewkesbury, where Helen and I worshipped for 15 years. Frank and his wife Joan were a major influence on Helen’s and my journey of faith, and very instrumental in us training for ministry ourselves.
Mentoring relationships can be so significant in our lives, whether it is emotional, physical or spiritual. Mary seemed to have such a relationship with her much older cousin Elizabeth. Mary, a young girl, pregnant with a miraculous conception seems to have sought out Elizabeth, who was herself pregnant with a miraculous, though not immaculate, conception. I imagine their time together was spent in mutual encouragement and advice, with Mary benefitting from Elizabeth’s wisdom and support.
Who are the people who have had a major influence for good in your life? Can you thank God for them, for all the support, training and encouragement that they gave you? If they are still alive, can you let them know how much you appreciate them?
Is there anyone today whose life you have some influence on for good, by getting alongside them and providing encouragement and support? What would you want to pray for them today? Or is there someone you can think of who you could come alongside, to encourage them on a journey that you might have been on yourself? Again it could be emotional, physical or spiritual.
Such relationships, like Mary and Elizabeth’s, will be blessed by God and anointed by his Holy Spirit.
Father God, I than you for the positive role models that there have been in my life.
Help me to be an influence for good on fellow travellers on this journey of life and faith.
Brother, sister, let me serve you.