As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.
A reading from the Gospel of Luke.
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what king of salutation this might be. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ He will be great, and will be call the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”
The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.
“Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For everything spoken by God is possible.”
Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word.” The angel departed from her.
Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. It happened, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, that the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She called out with a loud voice, and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy! Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”
Mary said, “My should magnifies the Lord. My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has looked at the humble state of his handmaid. For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me. Holy is His name. His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down princes from their thrones. And has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things. he has sent the rich away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his see forever.”
— Luke 1:26-55 (WEB)
I believe that Mary needed Elizabeth to speak words of life to her at that visit. I imagine Mary probably had many questions, and that she needed confirmation of the word the angel, Gabriel, had spoken to her before she left town. And not only did Elizabeth impart words of life to Mary, but she used the same words the angel had spoken: “Blessed are you among women!”
Not only did Elizabeth speak common language as the angel, but she confirmed things from the angel and Mary’s encounter that she couldn’t have otherwise known.
Angel – “You will conceive in your womb.”
Elizabeth – “Blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Angel – “The holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.”
Elizabeth – “the mother of my Lord should come to me.”
Angel – “Elizabeth…also has conceived a son.”
Elizabeth – “The baby leaped in my womb for joy!”
Mary to the angel -“Let it be done to me according to your word.”
Elizabeth – “Blessed is she who believed.”
Angel – “For nothing spoken by God is impossible.
Elizabeth – “For there will be fulfillment.”
The Lord speaking to Mary through the angel, Gabriel.
Elizabeth – “…the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”
The Lord washed away all of Mary’s fears by bringing such solid confirmation of His Word. In fact, Mary is so encouraged by this word that Elizabeth has confirmed through being filled with the Holy Spirit that she is able to pour out such a beautiful expression of worship to God that we have it recorded and still recall it two thousand years later.
God speaks, and He does it in a number of ways. In this instance, He spoke to Mary through the angel, Gabriel, and through the Spirit-given words of encouragement and confirmation spoken through Elizabeth.
I want to encourage you to be an Elizabeth. If the Spirit of God comes on you to speak to a certain person, don’t doubt it or shy away from the prompting. The word He has given you may very well be a confirmation of what He has already spoken into that person, and speaking that word may inspire that person to pour out a beautiful expression of worship to God.