Last week, we talked about the passage one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story. Shortly after the angelic visitation, Mary hurries off to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. I love this passage for many reasons. Most people will point to Mary’s song, which is lovely in and of itself, but in my mind, it is not even my favorite part. But we’ll get to that later.
Last week, I mentioned the Elizabeth circle, the women’s prayer group in a church I attended as a child. I mentioned that Elizabeth made space for Mary, and that Elizabeth was intuitive and inviting. That has not been my experience with women’s ministries. I have struggled with women’s ministry my entire adult life. I never felt like I fit in, even after I was put in leadership positions in said ministries. I never felt like I was welcome to ask questions, to be myself. I never got the Elizabeth treatment.
But this time last year, I got a serious kick in the pants. My virgin Mary days are long gone. I’m old enough now, and I’ve been in church long enough. I’ve walked with the Lord long enough that I am supposed to be fulfilling the role of Elizabeth now. It’s my job to make space for those who have traditionally been left out.
Last December, Coach Cynthia Moore-Hollinshed asked me a question that rocked me to the core. “Who are you mentoring,” she asked a room full of women whose ages ranged from that of her mother at one end or spectrum, and and the age of her bonus daughter at the other. She pushed further. The women we were to mentor couldn’t be our own daughters. She said they shouldn’t be related to us at all. The entire room paused. The question lingered in the air. It still lingers in the back of my mind.
My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Clanton, died a few months before I was born. My middle name is derived from hers. I don’t become the mother that I am, without her influence, even though I have never met her. As I ponder this Christmas season about my own impact on future generations, I am grateful for my familial Elizabeths, my aunts, my cousins, and the women who love me enough to have invested their time teaching me to be better. I am grateful for the biblical Elizabeth who, under the aid of the Holy Spirit delivered one of my favorite scriptures.
I’m also grateful for the Marys that the Lord is sending my way.
Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!