Recently the story of Elizabeth drew my attention. In the gospel of Luke, we find that she and her husband, the priest Zechariah, did not have a child, “because Elizabeth was barren, and they were very old” (Lk 1:7). Barren, a word laden with hard emotions. However, when an angel visits the virgin Mary with news of her own miracle child, he reveals that Elizabeth is with child, even in her old age. “Although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month” (Lk 1:36).
Knowing God’s Favor
Not long after that Mary visits Elizabeth. At Mary’s greeting, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Where once there was emptiness and shame (Lk 1:25), now there is the fullness of God’s favor and joy. We see here and throughout Scripture that God is the source of such extraordinary reversals. God’s presence with us changes everything. Not just for saints like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, but for ordinary people like you and me.
That encourages me. This year cancer seemed to take a lot away, yet in those losses I too have seen the favor and goodness of God. I don’t mean to diminish the suffering that comes with cancer. It is a difficult road, but the Lord is faithfully carrying me, making his presence known through many of you. Thankfully, at this point the doctors see no signs of cancer. Recovery will take time, and I have one more surgery to go, but I’m sure that the Lord will see me through.
A Year of Favor
As 2022 draws to a close the Trinity Lakeside community has seen much of God’s favor and goodness. We hosted dozens of people on guided retreat this year, including an off-site retreat for a local Anglican church. We offered over 40 spiritual direction sessions and a twelve-week online Ignatian Retreat. We hosted leader training for New Hope trauma groups. The community of people sharing our common life of worship, prayer and care of souls grew with the addition of some enthusiastic families. This was most evident in the recent Advent Retreat, when a team of TL community members served alongside me, providing hospitality, prayer and a hands-on art meditation.
Looking ahead to 2023, we hope to add some focused retreats such as a grief recovery retreat, a clergy retreat and even an icon painting retreat. A New Hope trauma group starts after the first of the year. The Stations of the Cross project is underway, and we are adding to our communal worship and prayer rhythms. After the new year we will share more. Please pray for us as we discern the Lord’s invitations for 2023.
Will You Help Us Get There?
Your prayers and financial support make these soul care efforts possible, and there is much more to do. Are you able to make a financial gift? Donations can be made through PayPal, Venmo to @Trinity-Lakeside-Abbey, cash or bank check made out to Trinity Lakeside at 170 South Woodland Trail, Double Oak, TX 75077. Thank you to those who have already given.
As Christmas joy eclipses the Advent ache, I pray that your sense of God’s favor will grow. I pray that where you have known emptiness and loss, you will know his fullness. I pray that where you have known brokenness, you will find restoration and strength. I pray that where you have known shame, you will know your belovedness and favor in God’s eyes. May you know God’s presence and goodness in real and tangible ways. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.