In an accessible, approachable way, Shannon Bream‘s new book, “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak,” explores the lives of women portrayed in the Bible — mothers and daughters who are central to both the Old Testament and New Testament. Today these women can be seen in a fresh light and looked to anew for both consolation and inspiration in an often rough-and-tumble world.
Bream is anchor of “FOX News @ Night with Shannon Bream“ (weekdays 12AM-1AM/ET). Her latest book follows an earlier success, “The Women of the Bible Speak,” which came out last year.
“I don’t know about you, but I unearth new treasures every time I dive into a passage I may have read hundreds of times.”
Bream not only looks closely into the lives of specific women in her new book — she also shares broader spiritual guidance for all those needing a gentle, helpful nudge toward God when times are hard, and even when they’re not.
Here is an excerpt from “Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak.”
Read this revealing excerpt from Shannon Bream’s new book
Shannon Bream in “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak”: When we think about the many different ways that women appear in the Bible, and the diverse roles they fill, we can see that the Bible offers us an incredibly rich portrait of all the things it means to be a woman.
Rarely, however, do we see two women speaking to each other, and even more rarely about God.
We see Rachel and Leah conversing, and we see Ruth and Naomi express their devotion to each other and lay plans for their future. Here, we see two women talking about their faith in God, encouraging each other as they experience His miracles, and expressing their gratefulness both to Him and to each other.
In her latest book, Shannon Bream highlights, among other stories in the Bible, the story of Mary and Elizabeth — and explains why it has "so much truth and beauty in one story, one devoted relationship."
We can glean new insights by reading through this pre-Christmas story and focusing on this supportive relationship, which may have gotten lost in the shuffle in the past.
I don’t know about you, but I unearth new treasures every time I dive into a passage I may have read hundreds of times. We should always approach Scripture this way: as though it were a precious jewel that we were holding to the light, mesmerized by its beauty, turning and rotating it in the hope that we will see some new and wondrous facet that we had never appreciated before.
The story of Mary and Elizabeth is like that, with so much truth and beauty in one story, one devoted relationship. We see the way God moves in our lives, despite our own fears and uncertainties. We observe the way God’s power and strength are revealed in the weak and seemingly insignificant of the world.
"The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak" by Shannon Bream is out now. Bream writes about the relationship and closeness between Elizabeth and Mary, "The love of spiritual mother and daughter not only framed but also provided the actual human embodiment for the arrival of the gift of salvation for all humanity."
In Mary’s song of praise, we witness the sweep of salvation history and the supernatural power of the God who lifts up the humble and brings down rulers from their thrones — the God who is the Lord of history, as well as the Lord of our lives.
Ancient and medieval Christians were fascinated by this moment between Mary and Elizabeth, which they called “the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary” or simply “The Visitation.”
It can refer to both Mary’s arrival to see Elizabeth and the Holy Spirit’s arrival within Elizabeth.
One of the oldest images depicted in Christian places of worship or Christian homes was of this scene, the embrace of the two women. Sometimes the images even picture the babies inside them, so that the bodies of Mary and Elizabeth serve as a kind of frame for the young John the Baptist and Jesus, who also tentatively reach toward each other.
Writes Shannon Bream in "The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak," "In Mary’s song of praise, we witness the sweep of salvation history and the supernatural power" of God.
The love of spiritual mother and daughter not only framed but also provided the actual human embodiment for the arrival of the gift of salvation for all humanity.
We don’t know the circumstances of how Mary was brought up, or by whom, but from what little the Bible tells us we can see that Elizabeth was probably a significant part of that.
The devout faith of Elizabeth informed the godly trust of Mary, “she who believed,” and Mary’s obedience made all of our lives as Christians possible. As brothers and sisters of Jesus, we too are spiritual children of Mary and spiritual grandchildren of the righteous Elizabeth, who gave thanks for the miracle the Lord had worked in her life.
“In Elizabeth’s absence, Mary was most certainly missing her mentor and spiritual mother as she watched her son — the one they had dreamed about together — be tortured and put to death.”
We have no idea what happened to Elizabeth or when she died — and for that matter, we don’t know those things about Mary either. We can guess that Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were older when John was born, probably died long before his work as John the Baptist began.
So sometime before Jesus and John began their public ministries, Elizabeth had most likely died. Mary’s husband, Joseph, was most likely dead as well, since Mary was traveling with Jesus at least at some points (John 2:1–12; 19:25; Matthew 12:47), and we see no mention of Joseph after Jesus’s visit to the temple when he was missing around age 12.
This meant that as Jesus was starting to teach and preach, Mary had lost people very dear to her.
In addition to writing the book, Shannon Bream also hosts "The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak" on Fox Nation.
In Elizabeth’s absence, Mary was most certainly missing her mentor and spiritual mother as she watched her son — the one they had dreamed about together — be tortured and put to death.
This, too, is part of the bittersweet love between mother and daughter. As spiritual mothers, we pass on our wisdom to our spiritual daughters, knowing that we might not be able to be there for them when they need it the most.
We might be absent from the darkest hours of their grief, many years down the road. As spiritual daughters, we love our spiritual mothers, knowing that there will come a time when they travel beyond our care and we will have to take the lessons of their strength and move forward, trusting that we will see them again in heaven.
“Spiritual motherhood involves guiding and leading someone in faith. Not all of us will be called to biological motherhood, but we can all exercise the role of spiritual motherhood.”
We can cherish the wisdom and strength they’ve poured into us, learning to become “she who has believed” — a light to the generations to come, as we were in turn enlightened by our own spiritual mothers.
Spiritual motherhood involves guiding and leading someone in faith. Not all of us will be called to biological motherhood, but we can all exercise the role of spiritual motherhood. We can lead young women to Jesus by word and example, becoming a sounding board for their questions and our challenges.
For many Christians, this role is filled by a godmother or a trusted older woman in our faith community.
Most of us can think of women who have served as role models to us and who have gently guided us along our faith journey.
Sometimes those women are in our family, as Elizabeth was in Mary’s family, and sometimes they are not, but they are always crucial to our spiritual growth. If they’re still in our lives, let’s be sure to thank them!
Our spiritual mothers also share in our joys and sorrows, and — most importantly — help us understand those unexpected twists and turns in light of our faith.
In an effort to find the deeper meaning tucked into the events of our lives, they can guide us as we dig in and try to see how God is working.
That’s especially helpful when sorrow, pain, or confusion enter our journey. And when we are filled with joy, they are there to share in it — just as Elizabeth and Mary did all those centuries ago.
Excerpted from “The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak” by Shannon Bream. To purchase a copy, click here.
“The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak,” copyright © 2022 by Shannon Bream, is published by Fox News Books/HarperCollins. All rights reserved.