I hope you were able to find someone to serve in a special way yesterday. I also hope that you saw the value in serving others, especially as you considered how Mary’s response to God’s Will is one of service.
When Mary arrives at Elizabeth’s home something special happened. As Mary approached, Elizabeth’s child (John the Baptist) “leaped for joy” in her womb and Elizabeth proclaimed the following profound words:
“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:42-43; 46)
Now, I know that the details are rather sparse in the early days of Jesus’ life. Part of reading the Bible is using what we know about the culture, the people, the author and historical context to help us see the passages in a fuller light. We know Elizabeth lived approximately 80 miles away based on our geographical knowledge of Judea. So by donkey, or on foot and early in a pregnancy which for most women means nausea and naps Mary chooses to travel to Elizabeth. Mary was a lot tougher than I will ever be.
Now consider this. As far as we know and I would argue, we can infer with a high degree of certainty, at this point no one has affirmed Mary in this pregnancy. A child conceived out of wedlock was a death sentence for the mother, literally. It is likely Mary could have been stoned if Joseph took her to court. This was a girl’s worst nightmare. Depending on how quickly she left for Elizabeth’s Mary may not have even had any physical confirmation that she was pregnant. All she has to go on is the words of the angel.
She arrives dusty, dirty, probably feeling sick, definitely exhausted, and probably unsure of what kind of greeting she will receive. Then Elizabeth speaks. She not only welcomes Mary, she says exactly what Mary needed to hear. Elizabeth blesses Mary, she affirms her as a woman and as a mother, and then goes on to say those most important words that we all long to hear:
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
We all have moments of doubt. We all wonder or question what God’s plan is for us. While we may not all have Elizabeths who can affirm us so well, we do have her words to encourage us.
Sometimes we have to wait for the Lord, just like we are waiting for Christmas this Advent season. Elizabeth tells Mary, and us, that we are blessed while we wait in faith and hope.
Take some time today, perhaps before you go to bed, think about something you are waiting for. Are you waiting in faith and hope, as Mary did? Or are you anxious, worried, or despairing? Recite Elizabeth’s blessing and find comfort and support while you wait. And if you are struggling with doubts about something this Advent, keep in mind that we have a God who keeps His promises.
***What did it feel like to intentionally serve someone? Did you find that the moment of service pushed you a little out of your comfort zone? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.