Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
// Luke 1:39-45
Forget the blue headdress, the holy stars around her head, the rosy cheeks and the sallow, skyward gaze. Replace the mental image of stained glass widow, fishbowl-halo Mary with a cast member of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. That’s more like it.
At this point in the Advent story Mary is essentially a pregnant teenage runaway from a middle-of-nowhere small town. She’s seen as a disgrace to her family, undoubtedly the subject of small-town gossip, cutting rumors and judgmental whispers, and is sent to live with her older, more respectable cousin, Elizabeth.
Living honorably and with clear conscience before God, Luke tells us, Elizabeth becomes Mary’s safe place of shelter, encouragement and sheer joy in a time of need. In stark contrast to the world outside, Elizabeth is overjoyed about Mary’s pregnancy and, filled with the Holy Spirit, she sings, gives thanks and glorifies God for the seemingly crazy situation going on in Mary’s womb. She blesses Mary, honoring her for being courageous and unwavering in her faith in God’s words, and counts herself as privileged to be able to host Mary in her home.
We, the Church, are often referred to as God’s children. As such, we are all connected in the Spirit – we’re siblings, if you will, older and younger, within His family. Elizabeth shows us a prime example of what it is to be a good older sibling in God’s family and a tower of strength for those in need:
- That we would carry ourselves with honor and live with clear conscience before God.
- That we would provide others with a safe place of comfort, shelter, positivity, joy & love.
- That we would encourage [fill with courage] those who the world would condemn.
- That we would be generous, counting it as a privilege to bless others.
- That we’d be filled with the Spirit, able to see and confirm God’s hand at work.
- That we would understand that the complexities of life are no match for the plans and purposes of Almighty God.
Whether we’ve grown up knowing God as our Father of if we’ve been adopted into His family more recently, we are all older siblings in the House of God. May the story of Elizabeth and Mary infiltrate our hearts, our homes, our friendships, our families and our Dinner Parties.