When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” – Luke 1:41-45
What joyful news Elizabeth and Mary were able to celebrate together! This interaction between two relatives is often thought of from Mary’s perspective, as Mary gets to share her good news with Elizabeth. But what is so striking about this conversation is that Elizabeth is full of joy for her relative. She does not think about herself, but immediately bursts into praise and rejoicing at the news of Mary’s pregnancy. This encounter would have been the first time Mary and Elizabeth had seen each other since Elizabeth also became pregnant, but Elizabeth doesn’t make this occasion about her; she celebrates with Mary and shows her love and support without hesitation. It seems Elizabeth was fully living out the call we have all been given to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
But how many times have we chosen to, instead, make life about ourselves? Maybe we hold back celebration when a friend shares good news, or we choose not to reach out to a friend who is hurting because we are simply too busy. Whether our friends are weeping or rejoicing, we are called to do life with them, and to meet them wherever they are.
As this year has felt like one heavy burden after another, it can seem impossible to want to celebrate with a friend who is receiving an answer to prayer while you’re still crying out to God in tears, or it can feel unthinkable to take on any more devastation in the lives of your community when your family is barely able to face each day. But no matter what is going on in our lives, God has called us, through the empowering of the Spirit, to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We know that we can’t do life alone, whether we are in seasons of sorrow or joy. We all need people to praise God with and people to pray fervently with.
With the holidays quickly approaching, we want to challenge you this month to think about who you can reach out to and care for this season. Who is hurting around you that needs you to sit with them or pray for them? Who is rejoicing over good news and needs someone to relish in the hope and joy with them? There is always someone who needs you to be there for them, whether you can bring her dinner or call her over FaceTime. Let’s make the most of every opportunity and not let this season pass without reaching out to those people who need someone to simply laugh or cry with them.
May we be the Elizabeth that the Mary in our life needs, and may we find an Elizabeth when we have Mary-sized news to share.