In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She exclaimed with a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb!… For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby…leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
(Luke 1:39–42, 44–45, NET)
What is your first response when some unexpected news suddenly invades your life? Mary was perplexed when told she had been chosen the mother of the long-awaited Messiah despite the fact that she was a virgin. As the angel Gabriel explained this miracle to Mary, he announced news of another miracle: six months earlier, Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, conceived a child in her old age (Luke 1:36). Mary humbly responded to Gabriel, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (1:38, NASB).
Would you be as quick to accept news of a sudden, radical change to your life? Mary models for us not only submission to God’s will but the need we have for help and support from others who have experienced similar disruptions in their lives. Mary, a young teenager, made the three- to four-day trip to share her news with Elizabeth, an older woman, who also received unexpected news of motherhood.
As the two women greeted one another, Elizabeth immediately began to encourage Mary and praise God for the coming of the promised Messiah. Three months later, Mary witnessed the birth of John the Baptist. She then returned to Nazareth more prepared for that holy night six months later when, with only Joseph by her side, she gave birth to Jesus.
For each of us, the past year came with unexpected news, significant changes, and an uncertain future. Will you respond like Mary did? Will you surrender to God’s will and look to others for help and support? Christmas is a time to reflect on the past, rejoice in the present celebration of our Savior’s birth, and prepare for the future in dependence on God and interdependence on others. This season we join with other believers to rest in God’s never-ending love, faithful presence, and sure promises.