Advent 2: Fear, Favor, Forever

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

~Psalm 27:1

This week I have thought about the fear, the shame and the disgrace that compelled Mary to go and visit Elizabeth. This is the disgrace Joseph thought he could protect Mary from by divorcing her. However, God had another plan. Joseph’s dream not to divorce Mary is a reminder that God’s protection is readily available and always timely.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 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!”

Today as I reread the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, I wondered if those closest to Mary thought she was running away from something or someone. In reality, she was running toward God and the confirmation she needed. 

The impossible was happening. Elizabeth was pregnant beyond her child-bearing years. And Mary was pregnant by the same Holy Spirit that caused the baby in Elizabeth’s womb to “leap for joy.” Their pregnancies revealed that they had both defied biology. 

And perhaps Mary defied her fears by praying as King David once did in the face of his enemies this portion of Psalm 27:2-5:

When the wicked advance against me to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

In her day of trouble, God sent her to the one place where she would be protected and her faith nurtured. For nine months, Mary’s faith and understanding of God’s favor grew exponentially…into a forever reality.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

~Psalm 27:14

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