39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
At last! We get a Bible reading which really does make us think that Christmas is on the way. There’s been a lot of talk of what God means to us, and what we should do in response, but only really two readings that point directly to what is to come.
Now it all seems a lot closer… a lot more real… two sisters starting to get excited about giving birth. And both special births – both promised by God and foretold. Two women coming to terms, as Nouwen reminds us, with their part in fulfilling God’s promise to us – Elizabeth to bear the prophet of the most High predicted in Isaiah 40; Mary to bring forth the Son of God himself.
The rest of us cannot play such an important role, surely? Maybe not. But even to achieve what we can, we need to be open to the grace of God as Elizabeth and Mary were – to be ready to pass that grace on to others. Today’s prayer calls on us to seek out our own “Elizabeth” and to welcome Jesus into our own hearts – and in turn today’s action calls on us to do something for somebody else – perhaps to free them up to let Jesus in that little bit more themselves?
Today is my work ‘away day’ – I’m doing the business bit in the morning; not sure about the team part in the afternoon; and avoiding the Christmas party. What can I do this afternoon to perhaps make life easier next week for those who are staying for that part of the day? Maybe even to free up enough time that they can come to the work carol service? Unlikely… but maybe, just maybe…