Devotion for December 10, 2020 from Pastor Barbara Caine of Holy Redeemer:
Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45
Nine months…. A friend remarked that we’ve been doing this Covid sheltering for nine months now…. and no baby. And we are in the middle of Advent, the time of waiting for the baby to come. Mary went on a journey in her first trimester, to see her cousin, Elizabeth, the one who was too old to have a baby, and yet…. There was no hope for children left in Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, and being barren was considered a disgrace in those days, but God had other plans.
And the baby who was a gift from God for Elizabeth and Zechariah in their old age – a gift to the world! – was still in the womb, still in the dark, the first time he encountered Jesus. And he leaped for joy! It makes me wonder about joy. Can joy be had in the darkest of times, in times like these, when the death toll is rising, and the number of people sick is staggering? People are dealing with the loss of jobs, which is a blow to one’s identity. People are dealing with separation from their loved ones, which is a blow to one’s heart. People are dealing with helplessness to stop the course of the disease, whether as a lay person, or as a medical professional, which is a blow to one’s sense of purpose. People are dealing with…..
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b
I believe, especially right now, that joy is very different from happiness. Happiness is about getting what we want, being where we want to be, and enjoying the good things of life. Joy is about love, and continuing to love, even when our loved one has died. Joy is about peace, not from without, as chaos often reigns, but peace from within, that we are not alone, we are not abandoned, we have a creator who holds onto us forever. And joy is about sharing, sharing our words, our visions, our faith, our resources, and our very beings, simply because we know and care that life is short and very precious.
Elizabeth and Zechariah knew dark times, and Mary and Joseph, and John, and Jesus knew dark times, too, just like the rest of us. Yet they took joy where they could, and loved who was near, and pointed to a future that is now and not yet. It’s kind of like a vaccine that is ready, and yet, it is not available now for everyone….so we wait, but the time is coming, and God has plans for us.
I pray for a blessed Advent for you this year.
In Christ, Pastor Barbara Pastor Barbara B Caine