Episode #13 — Being Elizabeth: What does it take for Mary to have hope? It takes God’s word, sure. But it also takes Elizabeth. It takes another person to affirm God’s work in Mary’s life. Today I look at how we access hope as we speak the truth of God’s promises into one another’s lives.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
As soon as the angel leaves her, Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Just imagine. You’re going to see your older relative, and you’re filled with this news that might be from God and also might have been a dream and might mean the end of your marriage that hasn’t even begun, and might mean your death (you could be stoned for having sex outside of marriage in those days). So Mary has no idea how to tell Elizabeth or what she will say. Maybe Elizabeth will think she’s losing her mind. Maybe Elizabeth will shun Mary like their religion says she should. Maybe however Elizabeth responds will be a signal of how the rest of the world will respond.
So Mary gets there, and she doesn’t say anything to Elizabeth about being pregnant. She simply says hello. As soon as she says hello, Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth, without knowing that an angel has visited, without knowing any of the details, echoes the words the angel has spoken.
Only now, only after Elizabeth has given affirmation to the angel’s words, does Mary rejoice. She proclaims what she has only dared hope up to this point: that God is actually going to do something beautiful and merciful and just and right and true in and through her, through the birth of this unexpected baby.
So what does it take for Mary to have hope? It takes God’s word, sure. But it also takes Elizabeth. It takes another person to affirm God’s work in Mary’s life. Hope depends upon God’s promises, but the way we have access to hope is as we speak the truth of those promises into one another’s lives.
This Christmas season, let us be Elizabeth to one another. Let us see what God has promised through Jesus and name that. Let’s call it forth. Let’s remind each other of what is true.
That the God who is just and right and good hates injustice.
That the God who is grace and mercy and light loves all people.
That the God who spoke creation into being can handle our sins and sorrows.
That the God who came to us as a baby helpless in a manger can handle our helplessness.
Once Elizabeth speaks that affirmation, Mary rejoices. And then she goes on to fulfill the purpose for which she has been chosen. She gives birth to a little boy, the light who shines hope for all the world to see.
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