December 12th – The Story: Two Mothers Meet

Luke 1: 39—41a:

In those days Mary arose and went hastily into the hill country to a Judean city. There she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby jumped in her womb.


Laugh, Elizabeth! Laugh with excitement. Something’s coming. Something’s happening. Like springtime in winter, it’s not just you who’s pregnant. The infant within you—he’s not the only thing about to burst new into creation.

Behold, says the Lord, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth: do you not perceive it? (Isa. 43:19).


For whatever reason (we don’t know the reason) old Elizabeth has kept her condition a secret all these months. Who else knows that she is pregnant? Zechariah. Her husband, who goes about his business in a mute, grinning hilarity. But he can keep a secret.

So now one else knows about it!

Yet all at once Elizabeth is peering in a mirror, for here is someone who knows what she knows. She’s peering in a rich, three-dimensional mirror, for here is the body of one who’s experiencing what she is experiencing. And the mirror she peers in, why, it is also a window! For it opens up on a wonderful vista, broader than two women and two pregnancies put together!


Elizabeth is dozing on the roof of her house. It has become her habit to take brief midday naps because her old bones are unused to the weight of the baby and the plain labor it adds to her every waking motion.

Suddenly, as if the air itself has rung, she snaps awake, all her senses trembling. She can hear footsteps, small and swift and far away. Someone is running on tiptoe. Elizabeth feels a pressure on her chest, as if the weather were changing toward storm—yet she can, it seems to her, taste the very radiance of the sun. Something’s happening! Someone’s coming!

Elizabeth lifts herself and looks over the parapet of the roof. Yes! Yes, a woman is running the hills in her direction. Very intent. Filled with purpose and a certain knowledge. Who?—

Immediately Elizabeth knows who! She can’t see the features, but she recognizes the posture and the gestures, the bold pitching of her arms in time with her feet: it’s her kinswoman. Mary. But why?—

The old woman stands up and arranges her robes. She descends the ladder on the far side of the house into her courtyard. It doesn’t take but a second, yet the instant her foot touches ground, there is Mary, as big as life, entering the doorway, beaming!

Elizabeth gaps. She can’t breathe. Mary’s bright eye (something’s strange!) is piercing Elizabeth even to the secret in her soul. Mary knows! Here is the mirror of her mind. They’ve told no one, no one—yet this eager young woman knows that she, in spite of her old age, has conceived a baby in her womb and is pregnant. (Who told her? What’s happening?)

Mary blooms. Like an opening rose, her whole being unfolds before Elizabeth, and in greeting she utters her kinswoman’s name. She whispers, “Elizabeth!”

And straightway Elizabeth, too, flushes with a bright, pink joy and recognition. The sound of Mary’s voice is so familiar! It sends forth news even as blossoms release their scent upon the wind: Mary, too, is pregnant! (Something’s happening!) Elizabeth is on the edge of tears, for here in young, flesh Mary is the mirror of her own condition: sisters, sisters! They are both with child!

But before the tears drop; before the woman can rush her cousin to hug her; before she can utter the first word of greeting in return, the tiny prophet low in her womb expresses his first prophecy! Already filled with the Holy Spirit, already preparing the way, the baby leaps for joy at the sound of the voice of the mother of his Lord!

Oh, yes, something wonderful is happening! A new thing is springing forth into the world. All at once Elizabeth knows what it is, for she sees through window of her cousin’s condition into the mind of God: this is the Messiah!

And old Elizabeth can scarcely stand the excitement:

“Who am I?” she cries with a loud voice. “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

And so it begins. Now more than one is aware of the Advent stirring in the world: there are two who know. And each confirms the glad anticipation of the other. Two is a communion. Two is necessary. Two is a perfect circle: one to speak it, one to hear. The word is real. Christ is coming!


Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming! O Lord, my heart is hammering, my chest grows taut with excitement: you are coming! How can I help but laugh?

Dear Lord, then send me one other, one blessed other person with whom to share my joy, one to hear me utter my faith in you, one to speak faith in return.

Christmas is coming!

Amen.

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