35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”
38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
I remember when my sister and I found out we were expecting at the same time. Others recall there was screaming, hugging and jumping up and down followed by tears of joy. Luke’s story leaves us trying to imagine what Mary, a teenager, must have been feeling. She had just experienced the angel Gabriel announcing the good news that God had called her to be the mother of God’s son. Mary had responded to the angel by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant.” She must have felt confused as well as marginalized by the disgrace of this pregnancy, while engaged to Joseph. Mary
hurried away to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The angel had told Mary that her cousin was also pregnant with a child conceived in her old age, telling Mary that “Nothing is impossible for God.”
Elizabeth had been barren, a stigma at the time seen as a sign that she was not blessed by God. When Mary arrives,
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, receiving Mary with joy. The child leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb and she prophesied saying, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises made to her.
Elizabeth is the first person to call Jesus “Lord,” the first to recognize Jesus as her Lord and Savior, even before Jesus was born. She encourages Mary and affirms her calling, having herself, been called to give birth to John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for God’s beloved son Jesus. God loves us and wants to be present with us so much that God turned the world’s expectations on it’s head to be with us. Worshipping God together, these two women, marginalized by their communities, encourage and affirm God’s call on their lives, not to be spectators, but joyful participants in God’s miraculous plan for our salvation.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Like Mary and Elizabeth, each of us who receives the love and grace of God’s salvation through Jesus, is a servant the
Lord. Often we may feel discouraged as we serve Jesus. We may see others who struggle with their calling. It’s in our faith community that we experience the God that loves us and wants to be with us. It’s in our church and small groups where we find and give encouragement and affirmation. We pray for each other, worship together and are filled with the renewing of the Spirit and find connection with God and each other. It’s when we share the good news as
people of faith that we are reminded of the words of Gabriel to Mary, “Nothing is impossible for God.
Are you a joyful participant sharing the good news? If not, seek out your faith community to be renewed by the Spirit. Who can you encourage or affirm about their calling or a ministry they serve in at church?
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, fill us with the renewing of your Spirit that we may be joyful participants as we encourage and affirm each other. Amen.