During the time of Christ's birth, there were many people going about their ways doing the things they do, who were chosen to be a part of this miraculous time. Among those were three women. Anna, the mother of Mary, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Anna in the temple. Bringing to life in what might have been their own words, each woman tells about what she saw, and her part in this blessed event.
Sarah, The Wife of Abraham
The story of Sarah could be subtitled “Getting Ahead of God”.
Waiting can become what appears to be an “occupation” for a woman. Waiting for a child to be born, waiting for a husband, a loved one to return from war, waiting for healing, waiting for the homecoming of the family – waiting, always waiting. Waiting for someday.
Just when it seems it will never be, we sometimes make foolish decisions trying to bring about a solution ourselves. It was just such a time that Sarah had Abraham to go into Hagar, thinking they could acquire a child in this way.
Sarah was called to wait – wait for the promise of a son to be fulfilled. She waited beyond what appeared to be humanly possible to have her dreams fulfilled.
Then just when waiting seemed in vain, the promise was fulfilled. She bore her son, Isaac, and lived to rue the day she exercised her own solution and tried to ‘get ahead of God.’
Mary of Bethany
(Taken from John 11-12:1-11)
The Lord appears in our midst many times and in many ways throughout our lives. He longs to be invited into our life to make His home in and with us and to dwell with us in our dwelling place. From generation to generation it is always the same. He waits for us to choose, he longs for us to say yes.
Some 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, in the time of his ministry there was known to him a family in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, lying about two miles to the east of the city. The family consisted of a brother, Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. We glean from the scriptures that Jesus loved them, and that they loved him and their home became a home for him.
Mary, was the sister who sat at Jesus’ feet. Her sister Martha complained to Jesus that Mary left her with all the work to do. Jesus defended Mary, telling Martha that Mary had ‘chosen the better part and that it would not be taken from her’. Mary appears to tell her story, in her words how she witnesses Jesus raise her brother Lazarus from the dead and how she anointed the feet of Jesus with oil and wiped them with her hair.
Lydia of Thyatira
(Taken from Acts 16:14)
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us, whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us saying, ‘If ye have judged me to be faithful in the Lord, come into my house and abide there.’ And she constrained us.”
On his second missionary journey, following the Holy Spirit’s leading into Macedonia, Paul made his first evangelistic contact with a small group of women by a riverside outside the city of Philippi (modern day Greece). Paul preached to these women and Lydia, an influential businesswoman of purple dye for cloth, came to believe. Not only did this open Lydia’s heart, but it opened the way for ministry in that region. In the early church as today, God often works in and through women.
Lydia appears telling how she came to believe in Jesus the Messiah, how she brought her own family and friends into the family of faith and started a church in her home. It is said that Lydia has the distinction of being the first convert in Europe, evangelized by Paul.
Claudia, the Wife of Pilate
(Taken from Matthew 27:19)
“Have nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”
This was the admonition we learn that the wife of Pontius Pilate gave her husband regarding his involvement with Jesus of Nazareth. Who was this woman, what did she dream, what did she witness, what did she think and what happened in her life because of the events of which she and her husband were a part?
The time is around 33 AD and the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth has just taken place. Was she one of the eye witnesses to this? The Greek Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church of Ethiopia celebrate Claudia with a feast day, believing that she also became a believer and that her ‘life passed in peace.”
Claudia comes before us, telling what she may have witnessed, what she may have seen and what she might have come to believe.
The Story of Ruth
(Taken from the Book of Ruth)
A Messianic prophesy from Isaiah 11:1-2 reads: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord”.
Ruth, the Moabite woman, daughter-in-law of Naomi of Bethlehem, Judah. Ruth, the mother of Obed; Obed, the father of Jesse; Jesse, the father of David, King David from whose human seed came the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Often in the Old Testament it was prophesied that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. God often works in mysterious ways and he allowed this Gentile, Ruth to have her blood mixed with the blood of the Hebrews, His chosen people, to make up the lineage from which His son was to someday come. Though a Gentile, Ruth tells how she came to be a Mother of Israel, a life giver to the family of the Living God.
(Taken from the Book of Esther)
The time is somewhere late 400 B. C. The place is the Persian Empire in the king’s palace in Shusan. It has been about 100 years since Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews taken captive into Babylon. Through a series of events, a descendent of these Hebrew captives became the Queen of Persia.
Because of Queen Esther’s wisdom and courage, a whole nation was saved. Seeing her God-given opportunity, she seized it and her life made a difference. To celebrate her heroism and this historic occasion, the Feast of Purim has been celebrated for centuries by the Jews every March.