Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 18:1-20; 147:12-20, Isaiah 31:1-9, Revelation 21:22-22:5, Luke 1:39-48a (48b-56)
Shortly after she became pregnant, Mary hurried to the home of her older cousin Elizabeth in the Judean countryside. Elizabeth – who had recently and unexpectedly conceived a son who would be John the Baptist – was both thrilled and humbled that the mother of the Messiah would come to her. Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah was present, but silent; when he had expressed doubt to the angel who told him his wife would conceive, the Lord struck him speechless until after the child’s birth. In contrast, Mary – who had embraced her role in God’s plan – broke into a lengthy and beautiful prayer which we today call the Magnificat, or the Canticle of Mary.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. Imagine a home with this pair of first-time mothers, sharing their dreams for their children. Did they worry together whether their husbands could accept and support them through what was to come? Could either of them have imagined the wonder, and horror, and glory that awaited their sons? John would be born first, have a successful ministry first … and die first. Just as our celebration of Mary eclipses our celebration of Elizabeth, the life of Jesus would eclipse that of John the Baptist. Yet all were essential to God’s plan. Based on the words of the Magnificat, it seems even in these most unusual circumstances hope filled that home:
[The Lord] has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Does your story need a little hope right now? Like Mary and Elizabeth, do you find yourself in circumstances you couldn’t have imagined? God is at work. Maybe like Zechariah you can’t believe that, so can’t find the words even to pray. Or maybe like Mary you can’t help calling on a God who has promised good things. God is at work. If we can surrender to what is, and trust God for what will be – even if it’s not what we plan – we can find a way to live in hope. God is at work.
Comfort: God is at work..
Challenge: Read the entire Magnificat out loud tonight and each night through Christmas Eve.
Prayer: I love you, O LORD, my strength. Amen.
Discussion: If you had three months to visit a trusted friend or relative and discuss the future, where would you go and what would you talk about?
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