39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
Luke 1: 39-48a (NIV)
(For use with the MORNING Daily Prayer)
Advent and the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke have been a favorite reading for my family since I can remember. Every year starting with the first Sunday of Advent my family would begin reading the Gospel of Luke that gives this wonderful story.
In this part of the nativity narrative God has given two promises to two women both delivered by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel informs Mary about Elizabeth and she travels to Elizabeth’s house to spend a few months with her cousin. Gabriel has assured Elizabeth that her son would be filled with the spirit, and sure enough upon hearing Mary’s greeting John jumps with excitement within the womb, knowing that the Messiah is present. Two women – both pregnant as a true confirmation of God’s fulfilled promise. Now we may never have had an encounter with the angel Gabriel but we have received numerous gifts and promises from God which can be accepted only by our own faith. But all too often our faith remains small and unblessed until we begin to act on this faith. This active faith will then open the door to all of God’s blessing and confirmation. So during this season of Advent what promise has scripture laid on your heart? Are we acting on this promise from scripture or are we still held back by doubt?
In the Anglican daily office, we end the day with Mary’s song, the Magnificat, the first of four nativity hymns which only appear in the Gospel of Luke, (along with Zechariah’s Benedictus (1:68-79), the angels’ Gloria (2:14), and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32)). But Mary’s song is so much more than how we should end our day. Mary’s song comes from a heart filled with the expectation that God’s promises would continue to be fulfilled. The lowly lifted up. The hungry fed. So what do we take away from this wonderful description of the joy-filled and song-filled meeting between these women? As I re-examine through prayer I find these verses encouraging me, in the midst of my surroundings, to look beyond myself to see what God has in store for me and for all of us. Elizabeth did that. Mary did that. They heard the voice of Gabriel, saw the creation of God in fulfilled promise, and worshipped Him. May this Advent find us all hearing and seeing and responding to the promises of God in our own lives.
A Prayer for the Twenty-Sixth Day of Advent
Creator God, we pray today that you will help us continue to find encouragement in Mary’s song so that we might also see your promise fulfilled in our lives and our world. Amen.
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