Who’s your person?
Mary and Elizabeth
Luke 1:39 -56
George Methodist Church
Sunday 13th December 2020
I am sure that all of you have a person. who is your person ? Many years ago in a series that I think most of you are familiar with Greys Anatomy, there is a scene where Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang are sitting together when Cristina matter-of-factly tells Meredith that she put her name down as an emergency contact because she is pregnant.She says: “Anyway, I put your name down. That’s why I told you I’m pregnant. You’re my person,” Cristina says.- We all need a person, a mom, dad, brother ,sister friend or relative. It’s your go to person when you know you are needing love or are in trouble or just need a debriefing. I am sure you can picture your person right now. I also know that yes we have that one special person, but there are others that are given to us in our lives for different reasons. One of my mentors Len Sweet wrote a book called “11indispensable relationships you can’t be without” and one of the people he mentions that you need is an editor. A good one to have when you are about to shout your mouth off about something that won’t help you or the person !!!
In the story of the birth of Jesus, we see clearly that the Lord lined up for Mary her person, a mentor and go to person in Elizabeth. An older woman who became her lifeline at a very difficult time of her life.
Luke would have probably sat down with Mary and as a doctor he would have had a very clear understanding of the birth story – Some of the highlights were :leaped with joy, filled with the Spirit even in his mothers womb and the timing of pregancy 6 months. The silence of the previous 400 years has been interupted in the most beautiful way – the prophetic words of old would have been deeply in the heart of Luke – the spirit of the Lord is upon me, arise shine for your light has come. Isaiah 60
No-one was looking for a little girl from Nazareth to be the bearer of the Messiah. There are many stories just like this – Moses,Ruth, David. Quietly in the hill country of Nazareth the plans and purposes of the Lord are unfolding.
1. Timing –We know from the previous verse that the scriptures are quite clear that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Mary went to visit. She got ready and hurried to the house of Zecheriah and Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea. Historically they probably lived in Ein Kerem just outside Jerusalem and the journey would have taken Mary at least three days to travel depending on the route she took. If you went around Samaria like many of the Jews did when travelling to Samaria it would have taken her at least four days.
It is also very unlikely that a young girl around the age of 13 would have gone alone. She would have traveled with a few companions for safety as there were thieves that patrolled these roads looking for easy targets.Even then there would have been those that had freed her from the possible gossip of Nazareth and believed her testimony and supported her on the journey to Elizabeth’s home. I want to look now at 5 E’s as in the letter which describe the way in which this encounter with Mary and Elizabeth happened and how she was the perfect person for Mary.
2. Embraced -Greeting and the leaping John – I love the reception that Mary receives not only from Elizabeth but also the unborn child in her tummy – still unnamed but of course it is John !!! It’s so critical to see how well chosen Elizabeth was to be a mentor. There were no cell phones or ways of getting a message to Elizabeth. Mary had travelled for four days and obviously had experienced some muttering and stuttering and gossiping from the locals in Nazareth, and was now seeking solace and comfort from Elizabeth and Zechariah. So many young woman have experienced scorn and rejection when falling pregant and struggle with that ongoing narrative in their heads. It’s often the church folk who are the first to condemn and point fingers and gossip and here in scripture is a classic example of how to handle things, although in Mary’s case the conception was by the Holy Spirit but who was going to believe that??? Elizabeth and Zechariah would and that’s why she came to their house.
3. Empowered -The spiritual leap of John in Elizabeth’s tummy is not just about John but, I am sure that the Holy Spirit was completely overjoyed that a master plan was about to happen in a profound and beautiful way. The Spirit of God is always involved in the plans of God and empowered Mary in that moment by the confirmation of her faith that what the angel Gabriel had declared was really true.
4. Encouraged -Elizabeth blesses Mary with the most encouraging words and this is before Mary can even say anything to Elizabeth –
Blessed are you among woman – you are not apart but among and deeply blessed Mary.
Blessed is the child that you bear – speaks blessing over the child.
5.Equipped She is not only embraced,empowered and encouraged but also equipped with the confidence of Elizabeth’s conviction that she Mary is the mother of “my Lord”. This is so overwhelmingly clear for me that Elizabeth had a deep awareness even then of her role as the mentor and equipper of Mary and humility. My child is not the one but yours is. This is so profound for me that as much as she was the older woman, she was prepared to uplift Mary’s child and declare her as “My Lord”.
She would have to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mary when those negative thoughts and voices came at her. She would be there as one just ahead of her in her pregancy to give her tips and she would have been aware of the challenges she would have in giving birth to the Messiah knowing all the prophetic words that were written about him. I read one this last week in my quiet time that I have probably seen before but missed : Zechariah 12:10 -14 ( a different Zechariah by the way- the prophet not the husband of Elizabeth)
Mourning for the One They Pierced
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
6. Enabled – this enabled so much confidence in Mary to acknowledged the blessing of her believing that the Lord would fulfill his promise to her.
In her being enabled she then responds by singing the most beautiful song of worship known as the magnificat and sung to so many different tunes throughout the years :
Ps 34,111, the shema and the old testament are decalred in Mary’s song – her mind is full of the Word of God and she sings the Word of God and she worships about the Lord and his greatness and goodness and migh and power. Out of the abundance of your heart the mouth will speak . She is a worshipper and a deeply spiritual woman and this comes out so clearly in the magnificat :
46 And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
What does she do ?- magnifies the Lord, proclaims the greatness of God
Acknowledge His mercy.
She has a servant heart. How can we be like this ?
How can we find ourselves coming alongside our person and embracing,empowering,encouraging,equipping and enabling?
So much of the narrative of the bible speaks about the radical way in which the Lord uses the must difficult and challenging experience to bring healing and reatoration in the brokeness of the world. He steps in and walks into our own personal situations to bring hope,life,blessings and an opportunity to turn something so challenging around for good.