Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45

Kelley and I moved into a “new to us” house at the end of October. It is all I can talk about when I’m with my friends. (I count those who read these devotions among my friends.) That’s what you do when you are feeling overwhelmed by good news. That is what Mary did.

Or maybe the news that Mary was carrying wasn’t such great news to her. Her life had been overwhelmed by events beyond her control. She was laid open to public ridicule and judgment. Nazareth wasn’t a big city and you know how gossip makes life worth living in small towns.

Maybe Mary is just joining all the other women through history who had to “go away for awhile” to save her family from shame.

Elizabeth greets Mary with joy. That is what friends do. They support each other. The joyful acceptance and understanding of friends is a great antidote for shame. The old adage applies: When we share our joys, they are doubled, and when we share our pain, it is halved.

Even as we read these stories looking for biblical links and foundational social/theological principles, we ought not lose sight of the humanity of the experience that Elizabeth and Mary are sharing. Elizabeth declares that it is Mary’s faith that marks her blessed. Here, as always, it is about faith in the midst of the turmoil and turbulence of life.

The humanity of this story is also about two very different pregnancies. One, unexpected and ill-prepared for. The other, extremely high risk. Yet both are welcomed. One, with the trepidation around the birth of every first child. The other, with the mix of fear and excitement which greets every pregnancy for a woman who long ago had given up hope that it would ever happen for her.

Two women greeting each other at the tipping point of world history.

It was just a year ago this week that someone went to a market in Wuhan, China, and became the first person to contract a new coronavirus. A single anonymous person becomes another tipping point in world history.

We are all connected.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we expect your movement in our lives to be grand and glorious, like thunder and a mighty wind, but you still speak most often in whispers. Elizabeth and Mary were seemingly inconsequential in their worlds yet you have raised them up as vessels of faith and love. From the very first, your love comes to us only to flow through us. Even in hidden and forgotten corners of life. May this be the good news we share. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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