TO READ Luke 1 ON LINE- https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201&version=NIV
Congratulations to the new mums who are experiencing their baby’s first Christmas.
A lot of us welcomed a new Grandchild or Great Grandchild into the world during the pandemic and were not able to see them until the lockdown was over. Our hearts were heavy and we wondered will we ever see our loved ones again soon. However, now it’s all over we hope- and this Christmas can be a real celebration when we once again, enjoy the company of our loved ones and cwtch those new babies!
Most of us love it when a new baby is expected into the family. Whether the child was planned or a surprise, with excitement, we speculate on what gender of the child might be, if he or she will look like mum or dad or even one of the grandparents! Our thoughts, conversations, and plans in the months running up to the delivery are full of joy and hope.
It was no different with Mary and her family. After all, they were an average family from humble roots. Having learned from the angel that she will give birth to the Son of God, Mary hurries to visit her pregnant relative Elizabeth in the hill country.
The intimate conversation that follows portrays Jesus as more important than Elizabeth’s baby John. It also shows that God is already at work to bring saving grace into the world. The limelight shines on Mary and Elizabeth, ordinary women through whom God has chosen to begin the transformation of the world.
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. 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. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham, and to his descendants forever."
The Power of Prophecy
Then and today, women are often overlooked or ignored both in society and in biblical narratives. Mary’s first words prompt an immediate response from Elizabeth’s unborn child. Invitro John leaps, acknowledging both Mary’s presence and the significance of the child she carries in her womb. John’s reaction to Mary’s voice fulfills Gabriel’s prophecy, “even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15).
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth, prophecies what is not yet visible to the eye. Furthermore, through the Spirit, she knows who Mary’s child is- the saviour of the world- for she calls Mary “the mother of my Lord.” In time to come, it is her son, John who prepares the way for the Lord.
It’s worth noting here that by greeting Mary with reverence, Elizabeth overturns social expectations. Mary is an unmarried pregnant woman. She might expect judgment, ridicule, even banishment from her older kinswoman.
But Elizabeth doesn’t judge she also blesses, by proclaiming both Mary and the fruit of Mary’s womb is “blessed” she begins a series of blessings that intertwine within Luke’s birth narrative.
Mary is indeed blessed not only as of the mother of the Lord but also for her unhesitating and complete trust in God’s promise.
When Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord,” she compares Mary’s trust in God’s power and promises with her own husband Zechariah’s distrustful questioning.
Question. How do we know that Zechariah is distrustful?
Answer. He asked for proof that the angel’s word was true. (seeing is believing)
Mary although very young and marginalized (as women were in those days)- obviously was an intelligent, thinking woman, asked for an explanation of what was going to happen to her, and then gave her willing consent. (believing is seeing)
In contrast, Zechariah the educated, experienced in years, a religious professional who should know better doubted God!
Elizabeth continues to turn social norms on their head by opening her arms and her home to the young, single relative whom her neighbours may have expected her to reject.
Jesus Manifests Elizabeth’s Welcome
Surprise- Surprise- When Elizabeth welcomes Mary, she practices the same kind of inclusive love that Jesus will show to the marginalized, prostitutes, and sinners. She sees beyond the shamefulness of Mary’s situation to the truth of God’s love at work in a society that rejects and excludes. I wonder- Do we do that?
The Challenge for Us
Elizabeth’s words and actions invite us to reflect upon our own openness to the ways that God chooses to act in our world.
What is God doing through unexpected people in our society today?
Where is God at work through people whom our neighbours or churches often exclude or treat as shameful?
Will we listen to the Spirit’s prompting when the champions of God’s new reality show up on our doorstep?
These are indeed sobering questions for us all this Christmas! I hope you will be with the ones you love this Christmas, but, if you find yourself alone- be assured that the Lord is with you- so you Never Walk Alone!
Happy Christ – mas (translation- Christ Celebration)
Virtual Hugs – Paula💕
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