December 9, 2022
Read Luke 1:56
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
A short but powerful verse.
Recently I read this chapter of Luke with the Leadership Development Camp staff as we sat together in the church library at our recent camp reunion. One of the elements that was highlighted was this verse and the value of the friendship between Mary & Elizabeth. Earlier in the chapter, we read how when Mary arrived at Elizabeth's house, “at the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (vs 41). And then in today’s verse 56, we see the refuge and friendship that Elizabeth provides for Mary. It struck us the connection between these two women and stories in the start of this gospel.
That’s a word we’ve been focusing on a lot about this fall at Calvary.
I think Mary & Elizabeth demonstrate togetherness beautifully throughout this chapter.
This was a very intimate and personal journey for Mary. Even her pregnancy was something that didn’t directly involve Joseph. It must have been very overwhelming. It’s possible that Joseph did not yet know about Mary’s pregnancy and hadn’t had his visitation from the angel. Therefore, Mary would have needed a safe place to process this big news! Especially in light of the culture of her being an unwed mother.
Mary’s just been told that she is pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. She’s also learned that her cousin Elizabeth, believed to be too old to conceive, is expecting as well. Mary must have been bursting to talk to a woman who could personally understand her excitement, her wonder, and probably her nervousness, too.
Some also believe that Elizabeth would have been in her last trimester at the time of Mary’s visit. It was very common for families to come alongside one another in these last weeks to provide help and support. It’s likely Mary stayed until Elizabeth’s son was born.
The interactions between these two women demonstrates the call of community. Togetherness. Sometimes just showing up for someone is the best gift we can give another person. This visit reminds us that no one is an island. We all live and thrive in relation to others. Sometimes we give in these encounters, and sometimes we receive. And often, as in this visit and friendship, it’s a beautiful combination of the two.
Take some time to thank God for the people who have shown up for you; the people who have taken the time to stop and reach out to you and simply be with you. A phone call, a text, a casserole, a check in, a visit. Maybe you are grateful they didn’t stay around for three months 🙂 but they were there for you.
This Christmas season, who can you show up for? Is there someone you can support and encourage? Even in the times when we are carrying our own stuff, God wants to use us to bless others. And in the midst of your struggles, is there someone you can also reach out to and be real with and feel seen with? Find someone you can feel truly safe with. If you don’t have that, start praying and asking God to send you someone and start stepping into opportunities to be in community.
We need one another. Mary had Jesus Himself literally within her, and she still needed others. Both these women just had a significant encounter with God and yet they hungered for connection and community together. God designed us to live and journey together. May you find moments and people this season that you can journey alongside.
Written by Rhonda Elgersma