I thought that being big and pregnant this year would give me a new perspective on Mary. A new point of view, maybe, on that young girl, carrying the saviour of the world.
And while I’m more sympathetic than ever for her ride to Bethlehem on a donkey and sleeping in a stable (I can’t get a good’s night sleep in my own bed these days!), the person in the Christmas story that I find myself drawn to this year isn’t Mary but Elizabeth.
Elizabeth plays a smaller part. She’s Mary’s relative, she’s described as being “advanced in years”, and she’s barren. At least, she’s barren at the beginning of the story. In fact, Elizabeth’s pregnancy is used by the angel Gabriel as proof of God’s power to Mary when he tells her,
“And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
It’s Elizabeth’s husband, not her, who’s visited by an angel. And while Zechariah is so disbelieving that he is struck dumb, Elizabeth acknowledges God’s power, saying:
“Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
I sympathize with Elizabeth because this year I have had a glimpse of barrenness. Only a glimpse but enough to remind me every day of my pregnancy that this child is a gift from God. That He, not myself or my husband, is bringing this baby into the world.
While Mary’s pregnancy is unexpected and unplanned, Elizabeth’s is longed for, waited for, prayed for. As I feel my own prayed-for baby move inside of me everyday now, I think of Elizabeth and the moment she and Mary are reunited.
“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.”
Feeling that other life move inside of you is a weird and wonderful feeling and I can only imagine how much more wonderful it was for Elizabeth – compounded with her joy over her own pregnancy was her realization that the Saviour of the world was near. I love picturing those two women celebrating and praising God together.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
(*All quotes are taken from Luke, chapter 1, in the ESV translation.)