Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Ponderings - Elizabeth

Mary had just experienced an amazing encounter with an angel.  The angel, Gabriel, had communicated to her that she had found favor with god, would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and her child is the Son of God.  After a few questions, Mary humbly surrendered to Gabriel’s message and Gabriel departed.  I love that Gabriel stayed with her until Mary was able to embrace his message. 

About ten years ago, Bill and I were involved in a marriage counseling intensive.  I remember the first day the counselor saying to us “We don’t know how long the intensive will last, maybe one week, maybe two, maybe a month.  But we will both know when the intensive has done its work”. He was right.  We both knew.  (It was 2 weeks.)  Our counselor stayed with us until we had embraced his message.  Gabriel stayed with Mary until she had embraced his message.  I want to be like that for my friends too.

The next thing recorded for us is that Mary went with haste to visit her relative (cousin?) Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was much older than Mary and in her sixth month of pregnancy.  Oh how I identify with Mary at this point.  Having a conversation with an angel must be quite wonderful, but sharing with someone with skin on is so helpful.  Their family relationship gave them a special bond.  Their supernatural pregnancies gave them a special bond.  Their faith in God gave them a special bond.  And I wonder if like me, sometimes Mary needed to process externally.  What a gift Elizabeth was to Mary.

Elizabeth was there.  Elizabeth was available.  Elizabeth was affirming!  Affirmation is a wonderfully powerful gift.  Elizabeth first affirmed Mary’s identity, “Blessed are YOU”.  Gabriel said, “O favored one”.  I am blessed because of my relationship with God.  That blessing speaks of who I was created to be not what I was created to do.  Secondly Elizabeth affirmed that Mary’s baby is also blessed.  Gabriel named the baby Jesus and called him the Son of God.  Jesus is the fruit of Mary’s womb. For Mary, carrying Jesus was living out who God created her to be.  Lastly Elizabeth affirmed Mary’s surrender to God.  Elizabeth voiced to Mary her faith, “blessed is she who believed”.  Gabriel affirmed it by departing from her.  Elizabeth affirmed it with words.

There is something very special about woman-to-woman affirmation.  God used Elizabeth significantly in Mary’s life.  Mary’s Song of Praise, known as the Magnificat is recorded after her time with Elizabeth, not Gabriel.  And in the process, Elizabeth was also blessed.  When Elizabeth greeted Mary, the baby Elizabeth was carrying leaped for joy.  Elizabeth had been hiding her pregnancy for five months.  Was she embarrassed because of her age?  Was she fearful of a miscarriage?  Was it too good to be true?  Did she just want time to savor it with Zechariah?  I don’t know.  But I do know that when Elizabeth affirmed Mary, Elizabeth was also set free to enjoy her pregnancy publicly.  I bet they had a lot of special conversations over the next three months as Mary continued to stay with Elizabeth.

My prayer is, “God, would you please use me like you used Elizabeth to be an instrument of affirmation to the women around me.  Thank you.”

“Blessed is she who believed …”  Luke 1:45

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