SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23                  LUKE 1:39-45                        MARILYN LONG
39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home 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 With a loud
voice, she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 why do I have this
honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for
joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her. Before Jesus was born, the scene is
set for his theme – “… for the least of these.”

This story has always been a personal favorite for me as I prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, for it reveals the power of
faithfulness. I can’t help but think of some of the songs in Christmas Cantatas that reflect Mary’s response to first hearing the
message given to her by Gabriel and later as she prepares for her future as a mother. And what about the news of Elizabeth
being with child in her old age? That news had the potential to help – if that was true about Elizabeth, then any doubts about
what Gabriel told her for herself would be put to rest.

I like to think that Mary and Elizabeth had a strong relationship before and that Mary welcomed this opportunity to go and
help her. Mary was of royal lineage and was to be the mother of God, yet she set out on foot, to travel 2 or 3 days to provide
maid services to her cousin. Mary was humble – though she believed she was carrying the Son of God, she was willing to serve
her cousin.

And John knew that Mary was carrying the Savior, for he was filled with the Holy Spirit upon his conception. He leaped for joy
in his mother’s womb when Mary arrived, so even before he was born, he hailed the coming One from God. Then his mother
was filled by the Holy Spirit and received the wisdom about Mary’s condition even though it was not yet apparent. In humility,
she asked how and why she was so honored to have the mother of the Lord come to her.

Prayer: For the honor to have Christ come to us.