Summary: Elizabeth's humble faith inspires us to rejoice loudly at Jesus' coming.
Every crowd has one. He or she is the one who works the room pumping the hands of strangers and slapping the backs of old friends. If you ever lose sight of this person, you usually can still hear him or her above the din of conversation. Some would say they’re loud but they’re just exuberant. They enjoy company and love to laugh. That’s what I was doing when I read your pastor’s description of me: Elizabeth the Exuberant. I’m not one of those who “works the crowd” but yes, I laughed with a boisterous joy to learn that in my old age God was going to give me a son who would be known as John the baptizer. But my exuberance, as your pastor calls it, had more to do with the impending birth of someone else’s child. Won’t you give me your attention as I share with you my Advent Admissions? Perhaps they will help in your Advent preparations.
You, of course, already met my husband, Zechariah the priest. He spoke to you last week and described how the angel Gabriel appeared to him in the temple to tell him that we were going to have a son even though we were both old and beyond the age of childbearing. Poor Zechariah. Because he doubted the angel’s message, God silenced him for nine months. Ironically my husband’s speechlessness was loud proof that he was telling the truth about the angel and his message. And so I believed and when I became pregnant soon after I exclaimed: “The Lord has done this for me” (Luke 1:25a).
What kind of things has the Lord done for you? Well he does everything for us! The food that you ate for breakfast. The house in which you slept. The warm clothes that you’re wearing. All that is from the Lord. It’s easy to forget though isn’t it? That’s why God empties us from time to time. He did that with the aged and childless Abraham and Sarah with whom Zechariah and I had much in common. He did that with Gideon who faced 450 Midianites for every 1 of his soldiers. He did that with Jesus’ unprepared disciples at the Feeding of the 5,000. God empties us the way you poor out cold coffee so you can fill the mug with a fresh brew. Likewise God often puts us against impossible odds so that when things come out OK we can only exclaim: “The Lord has done this!” So don’t despair if you’re facing a seemingly impossible task in your life – like building a new church as a small congregation. Let God fill you with his love, his grace, and his promises and watch him accomplish the impossible through YOU!
Because I was with child, no longer would my friends and neighbors shake their heads in sympathy for me. In my day and age it was considered a shame, even a disgrace if a woman was unable to bear children. And so I also exclaimed: “In these days [the Lord] has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25b). Do people feel sorry for you the way they felt sorry for me? Your pastor told me how in schools today you’re taught that this world is millions of years old and that humans weren’t created by God but evolved from animals. He said that if you were to speak up in class and say that God created everything, many of your classmates would shake their heads and laugh that you believe such a “fairy tale.” And what about those friends who invited you to a house party last night but you declined to go because you knew you would face temptations that no Christian would want to expose themselves to. Don’t these friends think you’re a little weird for not wanting to party like they do? It’s not easy being a believer in a world that doesn’t care about God. But one day God will remove any disgrace or shame you have had to bear because of your faith. When Jesus returns in glory with all of his angels, everyone will see that your Christian faith was not silly; it is superior to anything they believe or are counting on in life!
When the bulge in my tummy made it quite obvious that I was pregnant, I was happy, proud in fact to walk around the marketplace in my hometown. I was going to have a son, and this boy would be no ordinary child; he would be a prophet like the famous Elijah who had stood up to wicked King Ahab! Do you suppose I was a little put out then when my cousin Mary came to visit? The angel Gabriel had just appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear God’s own Son who was to be the Messiah. Yes, Mary’s son was obviously more important than my son. So how would you react if you were showing off your new engagement ring but your friend only smiled before flashing her new ring which had bigger and better diamonds? Would you be jealous? Only by God’s grace that’s not how I felt when Mary showed up on our doorstep. Instead I was honored. As if to make up for my husband’s silence I said to Mary in a loud voice prompted by the Holy Spirit: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42, 43)