June 11, 2019
One of the images my seminary class is using for study is of the annunciation. In rich medieval style, Mary hugs her cousin Elizabeth. In that moment of joyous meeting, their bellies touch. Scripture tells us that when Elizabeth saw Mary, her son John leapt in her womb. All three recognized that God was doing miraculous things. It was a time of unexpected change. As I ponder these women’s lives, I see as much stress and uncertainty as joy and anticipation.
Consider Elizabeth. She had never been able to have a child. Her barren condition was a struggle on many levels. Women’s worth was judged by their ability to have children. Harsh judgement was often passed on such women. And what was the longing of her heart? What are her dreams of having a family? At moments there was sadness, then anger, then frustration, peace, and resignation. All of these bring her to that sudden unexpected moment when she finds herself with child. She lived in a place of having her hope filled beyond hope. The anticipation meant new and unexpected routines.
Elizabeth isn’t the only one to have an unexpected child. She joins Sarah and the wife of Manoah. She reminds me that God’s possibilities exceed our expectations. It’s easy to think a job is done. Or that age and circumstance prevent you from being used. Then Elizabeth reminds us that great things can happen at every age and stage of our lives. As I ponder her, I wonder who God is working through even now to bring about great things for the church.
And Mary. In the moment of their hug, young and old are one community, one family. It contradicts beliefs that different generations have about the usefulness and giftedness of each other. God’s plan is being lived out in Mary too. Who do we miss in our church because of youth or inexperience? How is God working in that person?
In the moment of their greeting, the annunciation is about God working great things in community. Each holds a part of that miracle. They rejoice is what God has done and what God will do next. We can each find ourselves in this holy moment and trust that God is working great things through us.