Tuesday 08 September 2009

Bible Book:
Luke

"Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed ... 'Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.'" (v.41-42, 45)

Luke 1:39-47 Tuesday 8 September 2009

Background

We are reading about the account of Mary and Elizabeth meetingbecause today is the festival of the birth of Mary, celebratedsince the 6th century in Eastern Orthodox Churches. It later itcame to be commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church, and theChurch of England also include it in their calendar of feastdays.

Both women are pregnant. Elizabeth's husband was visited by God'smessenger Gabriel and told Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:11-20).Though old and childless (Luke 1:7) she isnow six months pregnant. Mary too has just been visited by Gabriel,who has told her she will have a child, although she is a virgin,and he will be called Son of God (Luke1:34-35).

Elizabeth's baby will grow up to be John the Baptist, and Mary'swill be Jesus. Although Gabriel has told Mary about Elizabeth'spregnancy, Elizabeth is apparently unaware of Mary's until thispoint, as her younger cousin comes to visit her.

The narrative is full of expectation, joy and awareness of God'sgoodness. Both women recognise the part the other is playing inthis divine drama - Mary through coming to see Elizabeth; Elizabeththrough the words she speaks to Mary. The Gospel-writer Luke tellsof how this mutual recognition is aided by the Holy Spirit: Godactive in both their lives. Elizabeth's awareness of Mary's part inthis is apparently enabled by the Holy Spirit, but also by the baby'leaping' in her womb (verses 41 and 44).

Mary's particular blessedness is proclaimed by Elizabeth (verse42). Later, Luke tells another story about a woman saying to Jesus,"Blessed is the womb that bore you," and Jesus answers, "Blessedrather are those who hear the word of God and obey it" (Luke 11:27-28).Looking back to this story this places greater emphasis onElizabeth's second blessing - "Blessed is she who believed".Elizabeth might even be speaking as much about herself as aboutMary at this point. Both are believing women, who know that God isdoing something special through them. Both are blessed.

To Ponder

This is a story of joy and expectation. Whatthings do you expect of God, which give you a sense of joy as youanticipate them?

If those who believe that God is doing goodthings in our world are blessed, can you see yourself as beingblessed? How does that feel?

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