Journeys: Mary to Elizabeth Let’s Pray… Rev. Stuart C. Buisch

Did you ever think what time of day Gabriel came to see Mary? Luke doesn’t tell us, which
might mean it is not important or that it didn’t seem important to him. I wonder if there is a
better or worse time to be visited by an angel. The people who have seen an angel and told me so
didn’t say whether that was like meeting a chaplain – meaning death was around the corner or
good news someone to talk to. Mary seems frightened but it seems the spectacle and the words
that are told her. Mary got ready.

Mary got ready. What does that mean? Had she already started morning sickness and wanted to
have a few things with her for the journey? Did she want to have a few things to help with her
cousin Elizabeth? Luke doesn’t tell us that she said goodbye to anyone. Did she have no family?
Whatever the case I think we need to hear as we begin to reflect on faith journeys and Christmas
over the month of January that it is always a good idea to get ready. It is also important to not
get ready for someone else’s expectations. Luke doesn’t tell us what to do to be ready.

Readiness is a discovery in and of itself. One of the best reasons for travelling besides getting to
where you want to be is to discover what you think you need for the road, for the trip. That list
says a lot about you. There are suitcases that are big enough to need motors to run them. I have
seen a few. Sometimes it is good to make a list first. Never take what others need. Take what
you think you will need. In terms of clothes at least one adviser says make the pile and put half
back. My family prefer to pack lighter and use the laundry mat. Look again at the list and see
what that list says about you. Why are the things you put on the list on your list? Who does your
list say you are?

Mary hurried to the hill country. She had news to tell. Good news. Or was it? Here were two
women with radically changed lives who could console each other for the journey that would lie
ahead. Elizabeth waited all her life to be free of the curse of barrenness. Mary wasn’t waiting or
was she for the most amazing possibility an individual could have. To a certain extent the birth
of Christ, while it happened within Mary, happens in the soul of every follower of Christ. The
call to walk with Jesus requires more than just looking at your packing list. It invites you to take
up someone else’s will. Listening to someone else when you make decisions. Mary needed to
talk this all over with a cousin who had their norms/traditions/ ways of thinking blown to pieces
– Elizabeth.

As Mary crossed the threshold the fetus inside Elizabeth leapt. Had Elizabeth heard Mary’s
news before she got there or was her exclamation a cry of praise? She blesses Mary and then
proceeds. She seems to have no thought of why Mary is there but in my male ignorance it seems
clear she needed someone to reinforce the glory of what was happening in her body. Elizabeth
knew that glory in her own self.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. That is the truth
we need to explore a bit more. There is a blessedness in believing. When you hear something
from God, if you choose to believe there is a blessing. Indeed going off on a journey can be an
opportunity to be blessed either by a new experience or a new viewpoint of what you left behind.
Just as not all who wander are lost, neither are all who journey blessed. Getting somewhere to
find you didn’t need all that you have can set you free to live more freely at home.

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where
we started. And know the place for the first time. – T S Eliot

Yes, Mary could have stayed home. Jesus would have been born. But would Mary have sung
about justice and truth? Would she have had the platform to proclaim the words of the Spirit for
all of us to hear.

Mary returned home after three months. Perhaps she didn’t want to divert attention from
Elizabeth and baby John. Maybe she knew that Zachariah needed time to get used to all that was
happening for Elizabeth. No matter she returned home, blessed and ready for the next step in her
faith as she awaited the birth of Christ.

In the name of the Lord of the Universe, the Child of God and the Spirit Wind in our sails, amen.
Gracious, Eternal One, set our time free with your space of eternity…
Christ our forgiveness, cleanse us and empower us to be forgivers for your glory..
Breath of God, offer new hope as we receive all that you have for us…