The account in the Bible of Naomi & Ruth and Elizabeth & Mary is a wonderful part of the Christmas story. The friendship of women and the mentoring of young women by older women is apparent.
Because of Naomi, Ruth came to Israel. We have a glimpse into their relationship in the book of Ruth. When Naomi suggested that Ruth go back to her own people (in Moab) after Ruth’s husband died, Ruth refused. But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16
Naomi and Ruth settled into life in Bethlehem. Then Naomi advised Ruth on the custom of kinsman-redeemer, leading to Ruth’s marriage with Boaz. She eventually became the great-grandmother of King David. She was in the ancestral line of Jesus.
The prophet Micah revealed that the coming Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 More than six hundred years later the prophecy was fulfilled.
Elizabeth had been barren for many years, but now she was pregnant. Her husband had lost his speech throughout the months of her pregnancy, because he didn’t believe the angel who gave the promise of a child. What was it like to be pregnant when the body was beyond the time of childbearing? Elizabeth was experiencing something she didn’t expect, and yet she knew the scriptures. She believed God. When Mary came to her with news of her pregnancy, she rejoiced, praising God. Mary must have experienced solace and comfort in her unusual circumstance. She did not even need to explain it to Elizabeth!
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1 : 39-45
Elizabeth’s faith and friendship was a gift for Mary. Mary may have attended the birth of John and gained confidence that God would guide her through her own pregnancy. Some months later Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem.
I remember my college years. A missionary couple held a Bible study in their home for students—it was a period of growth in my faith and understanding of the Bible and community.
When I married, my parents were living at a distance. An older woman in the church hosted a shower for me and coordinated the reception that took place at the church.
When my son was terminally ill, an older woman came alongside me. She had lost a son many years before. When Steven died, she sat with me, and we talked about our sons. I was blessed to have women in my life at crucial times. Now I seek to be a blessing.
Have you experienced guidance from an older woman? Is there a younger woman that you can bless?