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Banner Image:   Christmas Meditations 2021
Day 6 : Grace in place of disgrace (Luke 1:21-25)

Elizabeth and Zechariah were both descendants of Aaron so were both from a priestly lineage and Zechariah served God in the temple. They served faithfully all their lives and are described as ‘righteous and blameless in the sight of God’. 

And yet life was not easy for them as they were childless. The whole culture at the time for women was bound up with having children. Children gave women the purpose for living and secured their future. There was also the sense that if you didn’t have children then you hadn’t been blessed by the Lord and that perhaps you had done something to cause this. And so, Elizabeth suffered for much of her life from disgrace and shame. 

We can imagine her waking in the morning, spending time praying, setting her heart towards the Lord to faithfully follow him. But then as she stepped out of the house, putting on her headscarf, looking down at the ground, averting her eyes from the stares of neighbours, their gossip and judgement. Perhaps she felt that she dare not look up and catch any of their eyes for then she would be reminded of the pain of her loss as she caught their pitying or judgemental gaze. Disgrace brought her loneliness and grief.

Elizabeth was human and therefore not without sin and we know that through the cross of Christ the Lord has removed our disgrace and shame as a result of sin (Rom 8v1, Heb12v2). However, for Elizabeth it does not appear that her disgrace was a result of her sin but rather a result of cultural expectations and others’ opinions of her. Elizabeth did not need to feel disgrace but this was placed upon her as a heavy burden that she carried.

How many of us carry that heavy burden of disgrace and shame? Perhaps you’re a single parent or someone who has struggled with relationship breakdown, perhaps you’re here from another country and are struggling to fit in, perhaps you’re a person with shadows in the past who cannot break away, perhaps you have been told many times that you are not good enough. Perhaps you try to faithfully follow the Lord and still you don’t see the desires of your heart fulfilled and you wonder ‘is there something wrong with me?’ 

Elizabeth reminds us that while disgrace remains, we can remain faithful to God and all his commands. For He hears our cries, He identifies with our loneliness and whispers to us that we are loved. As with Elizabeth our struggles do not go unnoticed. But may the Lord’s grace and favour for us speak louder than the disgrace we may feel from others. Children of the living God, you don’t need to look at the ground anymore, lift your eyes, look up, the Lord has shown you favour and grace through the death and resurrection of His Son. So, like a bird sitting in a cage unable to fly out, trapped by the bars of disgrace that stand in your way, but suddenly realising that the door has been open all along. Just step out, take hold of the promises of God…and fly.

 

Clare Trenchard, 04/12/2021