Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months. [Gabriel told Mary,] “Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry.
Luke 1:24, 36, 39-42 CE
How must have Elizabeth felt when she learned she would have a son – after wanting a child for so long? We are told that she hid herself away. Was she trying to avoid being the “talk of the town?” Did she want to make sure it was really happening? Was this a holy time that she wanted to savor privately? Perhaps she was waiting until her pregnancy showed so folks wouldn’t think her crazy. Even her husband thought it incredible; scriptures tell us that he lost his voice because of his unbelief. Was the early part of Elizabeth’s pregnancy a wondrous time or a time of loneliness and isolation? I suspect the angel Gabriel had a dual purpose in sharing Elizabeth’s news with the young Mary! They each needed the company of the other, someone to share the wonder, the fear, the anticipation, and the incredulity of it all! Each was in a position to mentor the other. Mary’s presence surely filled Elizabeth with hope and promise; and, no doubt, Elizabeth helped Mary to see the blessing in this unexpected event.
Do you remember a time when someone helped you put things in perspective, see light in the darkness, or feel hope in the midst of uncertainty? Who has been Elizabeth to your Mary or Mary to your Elizabeth? Give thanks today for a special friend or relative who provided a listening ear, a well-placed smile, a hand, a hug, or a loving word of encouragement when you were in need. Use this day as an opportunity to reach out to someone who may need a well-timed visit or an encouraging word.
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Loving God, help me to be an encouragement to someone today. Thank you for well-placed people who’ve made time for me just when I needed it! Amen.
Betty is Director of Women’s Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia (www.gadisciples.org). She is active at Decatur First Christian Church, where her husband, James, is pastor. They are the parents of two young adults, a black lab, and two cats. Betty attended Union Theological Seminary in NYC and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her ordination next summer. She enjoys leading retreats and workshops. Other activities include: Atlanta’s Alliance Children’s Theatre Guild, book club, church choir, Spanish language learning, silly computer games, and occasional guitar playing. Life is full!