A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”
When my wife became pregnant with our first daughter, she immediately went out and bought the seminal parenting book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. She saw doctors, took birthing classes, and nested in the bedroom. But most of all, she talked daily with her best friend, Allie, who already had three kids by this point. Those conversations were where real wisdom sharing, encouragement, and prayers happened.
Mary had none of this. No books. No doctors. No classes. And friends? She was a young girl pregnant out of wedlock, sure to be the shame of Nazareth once you could see her baby bump. Despite an angel delivering the good news of her miraculous pregnancy, Luke describes Mary as “confused and disturbed” (Luke 1:29). But the angel Gabriel mentioned her Aunt Elizabeth also being miraculously pregnant, so Mary bolted for her home in the hills.
Elizabeth had her own public humiliation to deal with. Women who couldn’t have children endured public scorn, which is why when she found out she was pregnant she shouted, “How kind the Lord is! . . . He has taken away my disgrace of having no children” (Luke 1:25).
When she sees Mary, Aunt Elizabeth shouts with joy and becomes so filled with the Holy Spirit that her baby jumps in her belly. Now the three of them are there together: a young Mary, and old Elizabeth, and the Holy Spirit. Add the unborn John and Jesus, and there’s five. My friend Carolyn Moore calls this the first New Testament discipleship band.
We looked at bands previously: A group of three to five people who read together, pray together, and meet together to become the love of God for one another and the world.
Carolyn says that when Elizabeth saw Mary, she did a very band thing:
“She doesn’t soothe Mary’s emotional state. She speaks spiritually. She speaks prophetically over her, helping her to reinterpret her experience. ‘You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said’ (v. 45). Elizabeth speaks that word over a very confused young woman and the very next sentence has Mary singing praise, like it all makes sense to her now.”
She goes on to say that the angel may have given Mary the news, but it was Elizabeth who made it good news, because the Holy Spirit gave power to bind their relationship together.
We are not intended to go through Advent—or any of our confusing and disturbing times—alone. We need others who help us see what we can’t; to speak truth to our fears; to be the Aaron and Hur holding our arms up when we’re under attack and grow tired (see Exodus 17:12).
Sometimes we’re Elizabeth. Sometimes we’re Mary. But both need the Holy Spirit, so that together the news, whatever it is, can become the good news.
Christ was born. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!
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