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Receiving confirmation for a significant event or activity is often important. When I was in the South African Air Force serving as an Air Traffic Controller, I used to tease the permanent force guys mercilessly. At a certain time each year they would receive news of promotions and new assignments. I would know which guys wanted to be assigned to different cities, and so weeks before the news came out about their new assignments I would go around and say, “I heard that you got the assignment you wanted.”

“What!” was the excited reply, “how do you know that?”

“Oh! I have my sources,” I would say.

Fortunately, on the day that the news came out most of the guys did get the assignments they had been hoping to get. And so most of the guys did not get too mad at me!

However, one year shortly after the assignments came out, the phone rang in the control tower. The major on duty answered the phone, and after a few words, hung up the phone and said to me, “Lieutenant Fritz, you’re on your way to the sticks!”

Frankly, I did not know what “the sticks” was, and so I asked, “What do you mean?”

“You have been assigned to northern Namibia,” he said.

I was shocked! Northern Namibia? There’s a war going on there. Surely not. Ha! I know. He is just teasing me and getting me back for all my teasing of the permanent force guys, I thought.

“How do you know?” I asked him.

“You can confirm it at the Commandant’s Office,” he said. “You need to go and see him now.”

I thought for sure that he was teasing me. So, knowing that the major could see me, I got on the bicycle and rode very nonchalantly to the Commandment’s Office. When I got to the office, however, the orderly on duty confirmed what the major had said to me: I was indeed being sent to northern Namibia.

The story of Jesus’ birth includes the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and telling her of an extraordinary experience she is about to undergo: she is to conceive miraculously and give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:26-35). Naturally, Mary is stunned by the news. But then Gabriel tells Mary that her older cousin, Elizabeth, who was well beyond her childbearing years, was already six months pregnant (1:36-38)!

It is at this point that our text for today begins. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth so that she can confirm the angel’s prophecy to her.

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