In his first two chapters, the author of the Gospel of Luke tells us his version of the events leading up to and immediately following the birth of Jesus.
Last week, we left off the story with Zechariah returning home, having been visited by an angel, told that his wife would have a son even in her old age, and struck mute. We pick up again this week, hearing that Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, was indeed pregnant, but she remained at home for the first five months.
And then, another angel appears. This time to Mary. And the angel tells Mary that she too was going to be miraculously pregnant, even though she had not yet had marital relations with her fiancé, Joseph.
Immediately upon finding out such news, Mary takes off to visit Elizabeth.
It’s not hard to imagine the shock and confusion of both Elizabeth, pregnant in her old age and Mary, pregnant as an unmarried, young woman.
It’s not hard to imagine why Elizabeth stayed secluded in her house, seemingly not revealing her pregnancy to anyone besides her husband, Zechariah.
It’s not hard to imagine why Mary traveled with haste to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. Because if anyone was going to understand Mary’s experience, it was Elizabeth.
Immediately upon seeing Mary, before she even entered the house, the child inside Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. And Elizabeth declares, “Blessed are you among women…and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Standing in the doorway, these two women exchange stories and they each affirm God’s work in the other.
Yes, they are related, but they are so different from one another. One is young and one is old. One is married and one is not yet married. One is carrying the Word of God and one is carrying the one who prepares the way.
But these two pregnant women are deeply connected to one another. And out of that connection comes joy. Elizabeth is pulled out of her isolation. Mary will soon erupt in the familiar words of the Magnificat.
And maybe that’s the thing about joy. In community, our joy expands.
Grace and peace,