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 honoured, 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.”
Christmas can be both an exciting and stressful time of the year. We get to enjoy the company of our loved ones gathered over a lovely Christmas dinner and sharing gifts with one another, a day in which we can truly feel the so called “Christmas Spirit”. However, all this doesn’t happen by itself, it needs to be planned and organised for. Arrangements need to be made and Christmas shopping needs to be done, all more complicated within the context of a global pandemic. So, while Christmas is source of much joy it can also can be cause of great stress and anxiety. This mixture of joy and anxiety would not be too unfamiliar with the feelings of young Mary when she is told by the angel Gabriel that she will bring the Son of God into the world.
Where would she go with his awesome news? Who will she tell? Who would believe her? Who would understand her? Verse 39, “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”. Who better could relate to Mary’s circumstances than her relative Elizabeth? She and her husband Zachariah were old and childless but while he was in the Temple Zachariah was visited by the angel Gabriel (the same angel that visits Mary). He foretold that he and Elizabeth would have a son, John, who would lead his people back to God. Elizabeth then did become miraculously pregnant in her old age. (vs. 36) So Elizabeth was the obvious choice to help her in the tumultuous but joyous time. Elizabeth was carrying the child that would herald the King and Mary is carrying the King.
What joy does this meeting bring to Elizabeth, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?”. Not only is she meeting her loved one Mary, but she is meeting the one who is carrying the King of the Universe! Not only does Elizabeth recognise the great guest of honour at home but so does the infant John in her womb! John already recognises Jesus as Lord, filled with the holy spirit in the womb just as the angel Gabriel foretold. “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said” What joy follows from the faith of this family in the face of the unknown and much anxiety. Mary faced public ridicule from her peers being a mother before she was married and Elizabeth faced the possible pain of childness, this is turned around by the blessings of the Lord. The Lord intervenes in the midst of such anxiety and creates such joy.
So, let us remind ourselves this advent season that in midst of the joys and stresses we experience that there is an eternal joy that does not subside. Mary and Elizabeth were blessed greatly because of their faith, and we too share that same blessing 2000 years later. The long-time heralded King has come!