Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Signs of life

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; Luke 1:39-48

Expecting a baby is a wonderful thing, and it is also anxiety producing. I was 21 when I first found myself pregnant, and the huge responsibility for another life sometimes outweighed the excitement of having our first child. Because of extensive surgery as a child, they were not sure I would ever have the chance to be a mom. I wanted to be a mother very badly, but was also anxious about my health and the baby's health. I worried a lot the first few months and then she moved, fluttering and turning within me, and I was exhilarated and sure from that point on. She responded to live applause and laughing, and loved to kick when I walked up stairs. Turned out, both Mom and baby were totally healthy and strong.

Young Mary was early in her pregnancy when she fled to the safety of her old cousin Elizabeth. She was scared and carrying a burden so great. She was unmarried, pregnant and still a virgin. She was frightened for her life, expecting punishment and harm at every turn. When she shows up at her safe house, the reliable and ancient Elizabeth, she has another shock. Elizabeth is pregnant and the baby leaps when Mary arrives. That fluttering and turning that Elizabeth had long prayer for was within her, life moving beyond her wildest dreams. God brought these two women together, under the strangest of circumstances and gave them courage and faith to see their responsibilities to their fruition with faith and life. And God gives us signs of new life all around us, giving us also the courage to labor on, to follow Christ and to love and serve our neighbors.

Today, as the deep winter settles in and the skies are grey with rain, may we all understand the abundance of life around us and be full of courage and good cheer for God is drawing near. No matter how large our burden, God is putting new life within us, restoring our shattered dreams, mending torn hopes and relations, building new capacity within those of us who have been frail and hobbling along. May we share the love we receive today, may we rejoice with those who meet today and may we smile knowing God is dancing with delight in the love we carry for the sake of the world.

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