“Will she believe me–that I’ve done nothing wrong? As the wife of a priest, I’m sure she’s heard plenty of excuses…”
As Mary rushed to see her cousin in the hill country, her mind was surely occupied with measuring out each of the things the angel had told her.
She was to have a baby… much too soon.
Elizabeth was to have a baby… much too late.
Perhaps Elizabeth’s ‘impossible’ pregnancy had tilled the soil of her heart. Perhaps carrying a miracle baby of her own would make it easier for Elizabeth to believe that young Mary was carrying a miracle baby–Son of the Most High!
But this wasn’t the sort of news you just blurted out. Mary must have practiced her segue, testing out different phrases: “I wanted to mention that an angel came to see me…” or “So there’s a reason for my visit…”
Perhaps Mary also planned out her timing. Would she wait for a quiet moment, when she and Elizabeth were alone? Maybe after Zechariah had gone to bed? Or on the way to the well?
If Mary did carefully plan, she didn’t need to. She but stepped into the door frame and was instantly greeted with Elizabeth’s loud cries, “Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43)
Mary isn’t showing yet. Yet, somehow Elizabeth knows that she is pregnant! And not only that, she knows that Mary’s pregnancy isn’t shameful; it’s glorious! She calls Mary the ‘mother of her Lord’, which means she knows who Mary’s baby is. He is the Lord Jesus!
Surely this was one of the biggest faith building experiences of Mary’s young life–on par with the angel’s visit! And after hearing Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary bursts into song, giving us the famous Magnificat. (Luke 1:46-55)
Here are two obscure little women, out in the hill country, exclaiming over the ways Jesus is shaping their lives, folding their stories into something grander than they could have ever imagined for themselves. When Mary and Elizabeth come together, they suddenly see God’s hand with more clarity. So they raise their voices louder and with more joy! Their faith is intensified when they share it with each other.
Christmas is a time of gathering. We’ll probably attend more parties over the next two weeks than in the following six months. And some of our visits will be with other Christians, whose lives have also been folded into God’s grand story for the world.
What if our time together could be spent less on impressing and more on rejoicing? What if our visits could be filled with less stress and more respite? What if our interchanges with other Christians could be less superficial and give more clarity?
That’s the kind of Christmas I long for, don’t you? And Mary and Elizabeth show us how it’s done. When we share the ways that Jesus is shaping our lives, we get more joy! We get more clarity! Our faith is intensified when we share it with each other.
So be expeditious and passionate, like Elizabeth. Be vulnerable and expressive, like Mary. Make this Christmas a season filled with joy.