What Mary and Elizabeth Teach Us About the Celebration of God’s Goodness (Luke 1)
Reading the exchange between Mary and Elizabeth in verses Luke1:39-45 recently made me ask myself how I talk to others about what God is doing in my life. Read the passage:
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’”
Often, at church, we end group meetings with the sharing of prayer requests, and I believe this is a good thing. After all, Scripture implores, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
But, I have also noticed a pattern: the moment that sharing of prayer requests begins, a dark cloud moves in as if a dreary winter rain just moved indoors. The group’s interaction becomes myopically focused on sickness and pain, unmet expectations and unfulfilled needs. The group pours out their hearts about all they wish God would do and all the difficult circumstances that only God can fix.
In my experience, we too often focus on what we believe God needs to do, and we forget to celebrate all the amazing things he has done and is doing in our lives.
Why does that happen? Is it because we think God is a cosmic handy-man who is only to be called when a problem arises?
Mary and Elizabeth don’t think so. This passage reads like a birthday cake in too small a box. The sweet and delightful goodness of God’s blessing pushes through the cracks and covers everything. Mary and Elizabeth’s joy cannot be contained and they heartily celebrate what God is doing in their lives with those closest to them.
Mary and Elizabeth’s interaction also teaches us about recognizing God’s goodness in the lives of others: it should be celebrated no matter what the circumstances in our own lives.
We are too often focused on what we are lacking to celebrate what those around us are receiving.
- I know single people who refuse to celebrate an engagement of their friends.
- I know jobless people who refuse to celebrate a career advancement of their siblings.
- I know childless people who refuse to celebrate a new addition to their neighbor’s family.
Mary has been chosen by the God of the universe to carry and raise the Messiah. THE Messiah; and these are the words Elizabeth has for her:
“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed! Why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me?”
Is this how you celebrate the good news of God in the lives of your friends? Or are you too pre-occupied with what you do not have to celebrate the good gifts God is giving to others?
May we be a people who are overwhelmingly joyful about the coming of our King and the opportunity for others to feel him moving inside them for the first time in their lives. May we celebrate wholeheartedly with others and notice the goodness and generosity of God in our lives – not just our needs.
Read an earlier post by Chris here.