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Daily Devotional • December 20

Elizabeth Baumann
There's No Place Like Home
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 1:1-25

1 Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I, too, decided, as one having a grasp of everything from the start, to write a well-ordered account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may have a firm grasp of the words in which you have been instructed.

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

8 Once when he was serving as priest before God during his section’s turn of duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified, and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know that this will happen? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he returned to his home.

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me in this time, when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

I’ve always been the most homebody-est homebody I’ve ever known. To me, there’s magic within the walls of home, where my surroundings most reflect myself back to me, where I can create a kind of nest for my family to grow and thrive in. So one of the many things I love about St. Elizabeth is told us at the end of our lesson today, and we almost miss it: when she finally conceives a child in her old age, she secludes herself. 

For all the characters in the Bible who run out to share the good news of what God has done, for all the characters who are sent out on purpose to say what God has said and done, we have Elizabeth, who for five months keeps it a precious secret, hiding her life as the life within her is hidden. She steeps in what God has done for her. She takes lavish time to revel in the joy and wonder of it. She’s in no hurry to make sure anyone else even knows. It’s perhaps not even unlikely that the first person who knew after Zachariah and Elizabeth was Mary, who is told by Gabriel at her own Annunciation. And Mary comes to Elizabeth — brings her Jesus — at her home, in her seclusion.

We’ve all spent extra time at home the past few years; and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to get out, but hopefully we’ve learned some valuable lessons we won’t hurry away from. Remember St. Elizabeth. She’s in no hurry, even as she lives with the miracle of her growing child. She’s not concerned about what her neighbors might be thinking. She presumably prepared her home, even as she prepared herself for her child, and as she did it, she also prepared for the Holy Spirit, who descends upon her at Mary’s arrival and whispers within her the good news of the Messiah come, come first to her, at home. So may all our homes be.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Michael’s Church, Raleigh, North Carolina
The Diocese of Oke-Osun – The Church of Nigeria
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