December 21, 2019
Luke 1:39-45 (NLT)
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
I can imagine Elizabeth cooking in the kitchen when Mary comes to visit. Mary walks over the threshold of the front door, winded from the last hurried leg of her trip. She walks into the house uninvited, as family members do, yelling out a greeting to her elder cousin.
At the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth is filled with a rush of wonder and delight. Insight comes to her in a flash; she feels her baby kick within her womb; her heart begins to race with excitement. Before her mind can even form the words, she declares,
God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.
Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?
Mary needs to hear these words. She needs a human voice, a woman’s voice, an elder’s voice to affirm the work of God in her life and to declare the validity of her experience. She needs someone who lives in the same world that she lives in, who fully understands what this pregnancy will cost her, to recognize the guiding hand of the Spirit in it all, and in spite of everything, to enthusiastically declare her blessed.
We all need to hear someone declare us blessed, especially in challenging seasons.
While I was struggling to discern my vocation to ministry, I happened to meet an older lady at a conference who was a missionary. I was in a low place and needed an elder, a woman, a minister, to bless me. My new missionary friend gave me that blessing when I desperately needed it, and her validation of my experience meant so much to me.
Elizabeth’s blessing transforms Mary. In one moment of affirmation, Mary goes from being an inexperienced girl to a confident young woman, a bold warrior of justice, a Spirit-filled announcer of the coming kingdom of God. The encouragement of her elder and friend inspires Mary to release a song of praise, a hymn that she was born to sing, which we will consider tomorrow.
This is what the Church is supposed to look like: believers encouraging each other in our callings, listening to the Spirit for one another, being on the lookout for God’s work within each other.
Elizabeth and Mary’s joyous celebration was the first gathering of the Church. These two new mothers were the first believers in Jesus. The worship that they offered to God included the first human acts of reverence for the one who would one day be known as Jesus Christ the Lord.
The same Spirit who united these two female pillars of the Church still unites us today.
Christ promises to be with us when two or more of us gather together in his name.
The promise isn’t for one individual alone, but for the Church united, together, as one body.
We need each other, just as Mary needed Elizabeth that day.
God is here, but there are aspects of God that I will never experience until I encounter them in you.
God is here, but there are whispers of his Spirit that you will never recognize until someone else points them out to you.
God is here, but I need to see him in your face, I need to hear him in your voice, I need him to embrace me with your arms.
As we celebrate the visitation of God to earth, and as we wait for him to visit us again, let us allow him to visit us in each other.
He visits you in me.
He visits me in you.
May we welcome the visitation of our Lord.
God is here.
Precious Holy Spirit, may I recognize you in the face of others today,
and may others recognize you in me.
Spirit of God, breathe upon me.
- When has someone’s blessing made a difference in your life?
- Who might you offer a blessing to this week, this month, or today?
- Who are the people in your life who Jesus often moves through to visit you? Thank God for these friends and/or family in your life.
Song for Meditation: