Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vernet les Bains, Languedoc-Roussilon, France

For the next few days before we head home to Hinckley, we're staying in the mountains, with views of the pyranees. 
Just thought I'd share some of the wonder of the region in picture form. 
We've had a wonderful time talking about what we've been reading in Luke's gospel. Things that have struck me have been:
Although the people were praying, and Zechariah himself was praying (Luke 1v 10 and 13) he struggled to believe God was answering his prayer. How often does this happen to us today? Why do I limit God's capacity and will to bless and perform his will in my mind?

The role of Elizabeth and Mary- they have quiet faith and trust that God will perform his miraculous word, and even surrendered acceptance that his will for them is good ( instead of worrying about the very real difficulties lying ahead).  Verse 38 has Mary giving her life into God's hands 'I am the servant of The Lord; let it be to me according to your word'. Humble acceptance of the role God has blessed her with. I love the humility in Elizabeth's exclamation 'why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' - and as Murray pointed out this indicates obedience to Jesus as Lord before he has even been born amongst them. She remarks Mary is a blessed woman because she has believed God carries through his word (v 45).  Is this not a picture to us of faith, and what it should taste like?!
Not to minimise in any way the wonderful words of Mary's song of praise, I was struck by verses 49 to 50:

49 ' he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.'

Mary has a spirit of humble thanksgiving and joy for the great things God has done.
God is mighty and holy - even in just two words we get a view of Mary's theology;
Fearing God is about recognising who God is and revering him in your life- Mary recognises the mercy God shows to those with a proper view of God.
Generations after David, God is providing the eternal king who is to reign. David was massively flawed, but he recognised his need for mercy and salvation from God's hand alone. Mary has clearly read her scriptures, she knows what God has done. 

God showered his spirit upon the weak - Mary and Elizabeth were women, one young, one old, neither rich and influential. Their quiet trust in The Lord is an astounding example of faith.

Zechariah then goes on in prophetic voice, filled with the Holy Spirit, to say God is completing what he promised to Abraham, that the people would 'serve [The Lord] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.' Zechariah is here indicating the sort of saving faith we might have. We could be serving fearlessly, in Jesus' righteousness. Approaching him safely because Jesus has cleansed us from sin and given us His holiness and righteousness! This is not a contradiction with Mary's words about fearing God. This is fleshing those words out. If we fear God, and recognise his mighty rule over all, we will not fear anything else. We will not fear  that which is in opposition to God. We will not fear missing out on things of any worth because we have thrown our lot in with God- because we know he is everything!

I'm so enjoying looking around me enjoying even a little slice of the creative wonder of our awesome creator God here in France! Here's those pictures I was talking about:

Little friend in our gite!
Brown mountain cows
Pears ripening in the sun
House on the side of the river
White flower
View into the valley from the bridge
Yellow flower
Wonderful husband Murray
Fluffy things I keep seeing
Sweet chestnuts (la chataignerie, the name of our gite, means sweet chestnut grove)
Apple groves are everywhere! Golden delicious?!

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