From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
In truly stunning fashion, God orchestrates Mary and Elizabeth’s pregnancies six months apart. It is a testament to God’s care and provision that each woman has someone to journey with as she navigates the peculiar seasons in which she finds herself. The gift of a believing community can make all the difference in the form our challenging waiting seasons take. By intentionally seeking out one another, Mary and Elizabeth journey together and support each other. They affirm God’s miracle-working power in each of their lives. Their presence before each another serves as a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness and a visual assurance of God’s promises. Elizabeth is the first character in Luke’s gospel to name Jesus as personal Lord. In doing so she further confirms Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel. In her last words to Mary, Elizabeth passionately speaks of her belief that God will do what God has promised. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
We should not be surprised at the divine consideration in having this young girl and this old woman wait together for the fulfillment of God’s respective words to them. God exists within a holy community, the Trinity. God’s self is a thriving community, and God created us to flourish in our interconnectedness and mutual support of one another. We need one another to remind us that all things are possible with God and to help us trust the narrative that God’s reign is both at hand and still to come. In the midst of uncomfortable waiting, we need voices that also speak to our blessedness. Sharing our stories adds perspectives that can bolster our faith when life overwhelms, frightens, or takes us by surprise.
Though journeying together is rich and powerful in its ability to sustain us in faith, belief, and hope, there is something to be said about discerning whom we invite to walk alongside us. Mary and Elizabeth were fitting for each other because they truly believed in God’s ability to move beyond their understanding. They shared a similar faith imagination that could hold mystery and divine possibility in the face of what the world would call impossible. Some other person might have encouraged Mary or Elizabeth to reconsider what they “think” God spoke to them, not out of malice, but simply because we all live within different expanses of holy imagination. Sometimes what we cannot believe for ourselves prevents us from believing and hoping with others. A proactive way of embracing our waiting seasons comes in seeking out the company and encouragement of those whose spiritual lives bear witness to the depth and breadth of holy imagination needed to wait on God.
Communing God, in your wisdom and provision you invite us to journey alongside one another. Grant us wisdom and discernment to seek out and cultivate spaces of deepening holy imaginations where we can wait expectantly for you and with one another. Amen.