December 21, 2022 (The fourth day of the fourth week of Advent 2022)
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home..” (Luke.1.56)
It’s simply math, simply biology and simply love .
Math: Mary (who believed what Gabriel told her was going to happen) arrives when Elizabeth is six months pregnant. Mary stays with Elizabeth (whose husband Zechariah made mute because he wouldn’t believe what was going to happen) for three months. Six months plus three months equals nine months.
Biology: If Mary doesn’t leave until Elizabeth is nine months pregnant, it is more than likely Mary stayed with Elizabeth full term. That would mean that Mary didn’t leave Elizabeth’s side until John was born.
Love: Mary, upon hearing that Elizabeth was with child in advanced years beyond which she could normally bear children, went to be of encouragement and service to her. She was blessed by the affirmation of the unborn child of Elizabeth of her own newly conceived unborn son. Already from the womb, John was “preparing the way of the Lord” and serving the Lord with gladness. Jesus was already from the womb “caring for the needy and making wise the simplicity of God’s love.“
It certainly adds up that our lives are intended to “love one another.” Sometimes we may need to be prompted as to when, where and to whom we are to love. Sometimes, it becomes apparent to us because our hearts are filled with love. Sometimes, the miracle of love happens to us when we least expect it. At other times, we are the miracle of love which happens to those who least expected it. It’s just that simple.
It is the message, meaning and purpose of our intended and long-expected Christmas celebration. Immanuel is the “given” in our lives which makes our lives all the difference in the world. It is in the giving of our lives to God in worship and to others in service that allows Immanuel to be the difference maker in the lives of those whom God loves. Nothing more lavish than the gift of self to love one another becomes the greatest gift of all and the one most needed by everyone. It speaks of God’s love, Christ’s sacrifice and our opportunity to declare Immanuel: God with us and God within us. Instead of trying to keep up with the “other” traditions celebrated in this time of year, it would seem that we who are called to “love one another” would hold fast to the best tradition of all simply because it is the right thing to do as the mark of being disciples of Christ and followers of “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” That love speaks first of salvation, then of encouragement and then of following through with our care until new life is born in us and through us for all the world to know that “Jesus is Lord.” Who in your circle of care needs to hear and experience the simplicity of Advent’s message to prepare for the good news that “salvation has been born to us”? Who do you know that needs to be included in the true care of the Lord for His people to come into the circle of faith and be a part of the community of love?
Father, You have not simply provided a gift of life to us but have given than life meaning and purpose. We will not merely receive it but allow that gift to simply be and do what it is intended for Your glory and for the benefit of others who need to know how much You love them in Jesus’ name. AMEN.