Monday 01 June 2015

Bible Book:

"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." (v. 41)

Luke 1:39-49 Monday 1 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 113


Today's passage leads us into the beginning of the 'Magnificat' (from the first word of the Latinversion of Mary's Song of Praise), probably the best known song inthe Bible.

In verse 41, before Jesus is born, we read that Elizabeth wasfilled with the Holy Spirit. What joy and excitement that bringsfor her as she sees Mary in a new way, as she gets a newunderstanding of what God is about.

Sadly sometimes the teaching and practice of the Church is ingreat contrast to what we see in this text, where the Holy Spiritfills Elizabeth and inspires Mary as she offers her song ofpraise.

Too often the Church, through its teaching and practice,attempts to constrain and limit the Holy Spirit. For centuries itdenied or ignored the Holy Spirit in women like Elizabeth, Mary andHannah (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10). And even today we often limitthe Holy Spirit to specific gifts such as speaking in tongues (agift not given to these three women).

I love the way this verse fits with God's habit of turningthings upside down which is at the heart of Mary's song of praise,the Magnificat, just as it was at the heart Hannah's prayer. It fits because just like theteaching of Jesus it overturns both humanity's attempts to controlor limit the Holy Spirit (for example to only some people and somegifts) and humanity's subservience to the rich and powerful.

Elizabeth and Mary are filled with the Holy Spirit in differentways and both are powerfully used by God in turning the worldupside down. When Mary praises God for turning the world upsidedown she and Elizabeth are part of that process. Similarly when wegive priority to the rich and powerful we stand against the HolySpirit that we see at work in Elizabeth, Mary and Hannah. When westand with the poor and the powerless then, like them, we join withGod at work in the world and the power of the Holy Spirit fillsus.

To Ponder

  • How does your understanding and/or experience of being filledwith the Holy Spirit fit with Elizabeth and Mary?
  • Reflect on the joy and insights the Holy Spirit bringsElizabeth. How does this fit with your expectations andexperience?
  • What do you think of the idea of God turning the world upsidedown? How does that fit with your life, your calling and yourdiscipleship?
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