Advent Devotional Week Two
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
In Luke 1:28-38, an angel tells teenage Mary that she is to have a child.
After this news, one might expect the author of Luke to include a conversation between Mary and her parents, or a vignette of Mary pondering these things in her heart! However, that is not what we get.
Instead, the text simply says “the angel departed from her,” and then immediately transitions to- “In those days” Mary set out for Elizabeth’s house.
We’ve had “those days,” haven’t we? Days where the world flips upside down around us? Days where life as we know it changes in an instant, maybe for the better, maybe for the worse? We have all had days that remind us of our soul’s worth; days that remind us that we are made good in the image of God, and days that remind us that life is fragile.
And on those days- those challenging, life-altering, exciting, overwhelming days, I think we could learn a lesson from Mary.
Mary chooses community.
Mary receives a life-altering message and in response, Mary packs her bags and rushes into the open arms of love.
So may these verses remind us today that whether we are weary, rejoicing, or somewhere in between, life is better shared.
To reiterate this point, I want to share a poem I write from A Sanctified Art. It is titled “Joy Like Water.”
Mary went to Elizabeth’s house,
Because that’s what we do when the world falls apart.
That’s what we do when the script is flipped,
When the rug is pulled,
When it rains inside.
We go home.
We find friends.
We find love.
So Mary went to Elizabeth’s house,
Harboring good news that must have felt like water—
Something capable of helping her float or pulling her under.
And only then,
In the presence of a face that looked like love,
Does the word “joy” appear.
Mary said, “How can this be?”
The angel said, “Do not be afraid.”
Mary said, “May it be so.”
But when Mary went to Elizabeth’s house
And Elizabeth opened the door,
Joy—like a tipped cup of water—
Spilled out everywhere.
I imagine that Elizabeth laughed.
I imagine that Mary framed her growing belly.
I imagine that both women pressed palms to stomach
When that baby began to kick,
A holy ritual as old as time.
I imagine that God smiled.
And I imagine, that for the first time,
Mary could float.
Isn’t it always that way?
I could harbor joy to myself.
I could tuck joyful moments deep into pockets,
Saving memories of better days for long nights.
But when I share my joy with you,
When you open the door,
Joy spills out everywhere,
And it is love that helps me float.
God of Connection,
We all have “those days”- challenging, messy, beautiful, holy, surprising, grief-filled, joyfilled type of days. When we find ourselves in Mary’s shoes, surprised by what life has handed us, give us the strength to reach for community. When we find ourselves in Elizabeth’s shoes, with community knocking at our door, give us the strength to open ourselves up to one another as Elizabeth opened herself up to Mary. Gratefully we pray, Amen.