Counting the Days: December 21, 2023
Rev. Becky Durham, M.Div.
Pastor, Peace Presbyterian Church (MU Partner Church)
When we first met Mary of Nazareth, she was visited by the Angel Gabriel, who announced that her world (and the whole world) was about to turn upside down. She, engaged but not married, would be pregnant with the Son of God (Luke 1:31). Bravely, she consented to this plan, and bravely, Joseph, following his own angel visitation (Matthew 1:20), did not end the engagement. But at some point, it must have grown tougher to be brave. She had a testimony, but who would believe her?
Just like so many young women in centuries since, Mary went to visit an aunt who lived out of town. I wonder if going there was her idea, or if it was her parents who made the arrangements and sent her on her way–to get her out of town for a while and avoid her being so visibly pregnant while unmarried. Mostly, I wonder about Mary, who carried Good News within her body, but who must have felt a bit alone on this journey.
Upon her arrival, she is greeted by Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. Elizabeth does not proclaim judgment over Mary, but blessing. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” she exclaims to Mary. She calls Mary the mother of her Lord and describes her own baby leaping in her womb because of Mary’s presence. She proclaims a blessing over Mary, who “believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” No longer is Mary alone on this journey. Through Elizabeth’s words, the Lord has confirmed, again, his promise and plan. What a relief it must have been to Mary, to be with Elizabeth and to have someone alongside her in her faith and faithfulness. Thanks be to God for the people who come alongside us and remind us of who we are, whose we are, and what is good about the news we carry with us on our journey! May God give us many opportunities to hear again God’s promises, and to offer blessing and encouragement to one another.