In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45 (NRSV)
It’s hard to imagine the joy both of these women are celebrating. Elizabeth had endured years of infertility and had despaired of ever having a child. Mary had been given the impossible news that not only would she- a virgin- give birth to a child, but also that her child was the very Son of God.
This passage tells us much about Who God is and how He works.
The children- Jesus and John the Baptist- were still in their mothers’ wombs. They were at the most innocent and vulnerable stage of life, yet the life and the presence of God was made obvious even at this stage of development. Elizabeth immediately was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the child, John, jumped for joy even though he had not yet been born. The Presence of God was very much with Jesus even though He, too had not yet been born. It seems that God comes to us even in the most lowly, helpless and vulnerable among us.
Elizabeth also points out that there is blessing in believing. Elizabeth had been believing for a very long time. She probably had plenty of doubts and despair to go along with that belief, but her belief in the reality of God’s promise of a child was made real to her in that moment. She knew for some time before Mary’s visit that she was going to have a child, but there is a certain reality in that child’s presence, as mothers know, when that child makes him or herself known by kicking and jumping.
How does God make His presence known to us today? Yes, He is in the fanfare and the majesty and the bigness of this world, but some of His biggest miracles can be found among the least of us and in the smallest places.
So what do we do when we keep believing and we still don’t see what God promises? How do we believe some more?
Two peasant women. Two unborn babies. Unimaginable blessings, and yet more evidence of God with us.