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Mary and Elizabeth

Today the church remembers with joy the “visitation” of Mary (unexpectedly pregnant with Jesus) to her cousin Elizabeth (unexpectedly pregnant with John the Baptist). Two “unplanned” pregnancies which were to turn the world upside down.

How different these two women were, and how different their feelings must have been. I wonder, had they known, Elizabeth that her son would be beheaded in jail on the whim of a dancing girl, and Mary that her son would be publicly tortured and crucified, whether they would still have been able to sing the songs of praise that we hear from them both in the early chapters of Luke’s gospel.

Life doesn’t turn out as they expect it to. Both these mothers and their sons must have looked very ordinary to the outside world. You could pass them on the road and not notice them, join a socially distanced queue with them at a shop and not remember their faces the following day.

But they had extraordinary tales to tell. And, for both Mary and Elizabeth, the most amazing thing was the invitation they had received to be part of the story of God’s love for his people. This is an invitation which is still open to each of us.

We may feel that our lives are ordinary- not just on the outside, but on the inside. But each of us carries something within which is incredibly precious- a knowledge of God’s love for us, and of his love for each and every person we meet.

Like Mary, we can carry the good news into our communities and our relationships. Like Elizabeth, even if we are advanced in years, we can recognise the work of God’s love and name it and give thanks for it.
Things may not be turning out as we planned them at the moment, but we can be thankful, hopeful people, bearing good news, every day.

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