Sunday 20th January
The meeting of two lives - Luke 1:39-45

'At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!'

Two women that circumstances had thrown together; distant relatives now shared the common bond of each expecting a child, though the events through which they found themselves to be pregnant could hardly have been more different. Elizabeth, unusually old to be an expectant mother, and Mary so controversially young.

There were good, earthly reasons why each might be drawn to seek out the other. Mary would find in the company of her older relatives a place of sanctuary; a household committed to religious tradition where kindness and welcome could be relied upon to prevail. And as Zechariah and Elizabeth adjusted to the reality of impending parenthood, perhaps the presence of a younger companion would bring welcome support and respite.

We have no idea how long the two stayed together, or how many heads must have turned at the bizarre sight of one so young and one so old each carrying a child. As each recited their words of hope and salutation to the other, we have no way of knowing how public their announcements at the time became, or whether these profound truths were contained by the safety and privacy of the walls that provided them with refuge.

Perhaps it was best to ask no questions, to look the other way if this strangely weird twosome came walking down the street. Did the neighbours hear their songs of praise and acclamation? And if they did, were they dismissed as eccentric ramblings of two confused and mixed up women? Might we be tempted to act in this way, is it only through Biblical hindsight that we find ourselves able to embrace something far more profound?

And in our world today, there are many who might defy convention. Which of their songs might we be tempted to dismiss as mere ramblings; songs in which God's truth might be no-less embedded? What lives are so different to ours that we have lost the ability to imagine that in their circumstances and stories God's truth might reside?

In an episode no more spectacular than a young expectant mother taking shelter from the gossip at the home of her aunt, God confirmed the promise of his coming. We still seek out those spaces where the signs of God's eternal promise are there for those who choose to see and believe.

God of the impossible, when circumstances defy our every expectation and normality seems disrupted, sustain us with the unchanging reality of your eternal promise. AMEN



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