Advent 4C Waiting for Love – Elizabeth
December 20, 2015
She was running you know.
I could see from a distance that it was a girl!
At first I didn’t recognize her…
I wondered who she could be…
this young girl running all by herself –
and coming up the hill – our hill!
She didn’t look like any of the girls in the village.
I confess that my first thought was,
“What kind of family is she from?
Running like that, with her skirts flying,
her head uncovered, and without an escort?
My second thought was something must be wrong!
I was in my sixth month though.
For the first five months I had stayed inside the house.
I wasn’t going to do anything to risk this baby…
And also, I wasn’t so sure I wanted
the whole village to know that I was pregnant yet.
A woman my age without children…
people were talking.
They were talking about me.
They were using words that
women without children have always heard.
They were saying things like,
“I wonder what’s the matter with her?”
Others muttered under their breath things like,
“Shame on you,” “Disgraceful,” “Selfish.”
So I stayed home.
In my sixth month I felt strong enough
to venture to the doorway on occasion.
And that’s when I saw the girl hurrying up the hill.
Out of habit, I called for Zechariah.
“Zechariah! Zechariah come here!
Look down the hill!
Who is that girl?!”
Zechariah followed my gaze
and shrugged his shoulders.
He didn’t know either.
About the same time I got pregnant,
Zechariah had had some sort of a vision in the temple.
No one knows exactly what happened.
He was chosen to offer the prayers that day.
The rest of us were waiting outside.
He was taking an extraordinarily long time.
When he finally came out of the temple,
his face was all lit up
and he was making all these excited movements with hands,
but he couldn’t say a single word!
And he hasn’t spoken since.
Strange things have been happening around here I tell you.
Finally the girl got to the top of the hill,
and she came into our home.
You may not believe this, but I tell you
as soon as she greeted us,
the baby in my womb, literally leaped!
He jumped – with joy!
And then I knew who the girl was.
It was Mary – related to me on my mother’s side.
And I knew that Mary too was expecting a child.
Before she said another word,
I said to her
مباركة أنت في النساء
mmubarakat ‘ant fi alnnisa’
I’m sorry – maybe you don’t know Aramaic?
I said to her,
“Blessed are you among women…”
In a world where women are
shamed both for becoming pregnant
and for not becoming pregnant,
there we were, the two of us.
One pregnant too late.
One pregnant too soon.
But both of us at that moment joyful.
Together we knew what God could do,
no matter what the rest of the world might say.
I saw Mary take a huge sigh.
That sigh was Mary letting go of the fear,
letting go of the doubt,
letting go of it all,
now knowing that the angel Gabriel had spoken truth to her.
And Mary began to sing that song,
echoing the words of Hannah and Miriam,
strong women in our Scriptures who sang praises to God.
No longer a breathless, frightened young girl,
Mary boldly sang of the greatness of God-
of her delight in God!
Mary sang not just for the two of us,
but for all who have ever wondered whether God has forgotten them.
Mary sang for those who are hungry,
she sang for those who are afraid;
She sang for the powerless and the poor,
the longing and the lost.
Mary sang her song that day…
and I think she kept singing it….
because you know that baby of hers,
when he grew up,
he said something he very well may have learned from his mother’s song:
He said, “Blessed are you who are poor.
Blessed are you who are hungry.
Blessed are you who weep.
Rejoice and be glad.”
God has not forgotten you.
The fullness of God, the reign of God is for you too.
I needed to hear that.
Maybe you do too:
“May your souls magnify the Lord,
and your spirits rejoice in God your Savior.
For he has looked with favor on you,
and all generations will call you blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for you,
and holy is his name.”[i]
Let us sing…
[i] Barbara Brown Taylor in “Singing Ahead of Time,” from Home By Another Way.