Blessed is she…

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
These are the words of Elizabeth, full of the Holy Spirit, spoken to Mary as she arrived to visit. Imagine this greeting! What an affirmation it must have  been to Mary’s heart. Scripture does not give us a clear timeline, but it seems Mary went straight to Elizabeth’s, because the Bible does say she “hurried” to her cousin’s town. In my imagination she went without telling anyone about her impending pregnancy. She believed the angel, she knew what was coming, but the reality of how to tell her parents, her fiancé, her friends…that’s a different story all together. How would she convince them that she had not been promiscuous? The certain ridicule she would face must have weighed on her heart and mind.  Excited and overwhelmed she rushed to Elizabeth—a certain sanctuary, a place of refuge and understanding. After all Gabriel had let her on on Elizabeth’s secret. Mary knew this older cousin would provide wisdom and support for the uncertain days ahead.

And Mary wasn’t disappointed! From the moment she entered the house, Elizabeth offered just that. “Blessed are you among woman! And Blessed is the child you will bear!” Elizabeth cried out. She affirmed the message of the angel, even recognizing her own child’s womb dance as evidence its truth.  She reassured Mary that she had chosen well in believing the promise of the Lord.

Mary responded in humble faith to Gabriel’s message, “I am the Lord’s handmaid. May it be to me as you have said.” But what a long journey to see it fulfilled! This incredible promise of God would take nine months to birth. And during that time Mary most certainly faced rejection. Her fiancé had decided to divorce her, before the angel stepped in and told him not to. We don’t know how her parents responded but as the mother of teen-agers in this day and time I can  imagine their shock, ire, grief and helplessness. Oh, the fallout Mary faced in believing God’s promise.

On top of that, Roman political powers forced them to travel when Mary was almost ready to give birth. I can imagine her prayers, ‘God I don’t understand. I mean I trust you, but it seems like this just keeps getting harder. Isn’t there any way you could stop this trip from happening? I just want to be home to give birth.” I can imagine, because I’ve prayed those kinds of prayers before. If Mary did pray this, God said no.

So off they went on a journey to Bethlehem…where things got harder again. No room, anywhere. No place to stay. And Mary knew her time was close. Imagine what she might have prayed in her homeless, weary condition, “God, I don’t understand. How much harder is this going to get? Can you please provide a place.” And God said yes, but maybe not the yes Mary was looking for. A cattle stall. A cave for animals. A stable built not to shelter humans, but to house animals. That’s what God provided.

And that’s where Mary gave birth to His Son—The Lord of all creation—in this humble place. Alone, save Joseph, in a foreign town, in a stable.  Did Mary ever feel like, “When is the ‘blessed’ part coming?” I think I would have wondered that. If she did, the Bible doesn’t give a hint of that.   If she ever felt like God delivered less than she expected, she didn’t say it. Instead, Mary accepted His plan. She trusted His goodness. She obeyed without wavering. She marveled at the miraculous. And she pondered all these things quietly in her heart. She lived the blessing.

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