How do you respond to those who are on the outskirts of society?
I know I tend to believe that I am the normal one. Anyone who is different to me, or not meeting society’s “norms”, is probably a bit weird, annoying, hard work, or “wrong”. I realise this is a huge reflection on my own sinful nature!
Women, so often overlooked by society in the past and present, have the only speaking parts in this passage. Mary’s first words evoke an immediate and silent response from Elizabeth’s unborn child. John already points to the coming Jesus as he leaps for joy in his mother’s womb.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1: 42)
In this culture, women’s worth was placed on their ability to have children. Elizabeth was old and unable to have children. She would have been looked down on by society until her long-awaited pregnancy. Elizabeth reversed social expectations as she welcomed her cousin Mary. Mary carried the shame of being an unmarried pregnant woman and would have been rejected by those around her.
Here we see God’s love at work as he reverses Elizabeth and Mary’s shame. These two women would have been rejected by society. God was using the most unlikely people to bring about the coming of Jesus.
Just as God took away Elizabeth and Mary’s shame, for those of us who follow Jesus, he has taken away our sin also.
What is God doing through unexpected people in our society today? Where is God at work through people whom our neighbours and fellow church members often exclude or treat as shameful? We must be open to welcoming, loving and valuing all types of people regardless of their backgrounds or challenges.
Father God, we thank you that you have taken away our shame. Help us to respond to this love you’ve shown us, by sharing that love with all the people you place before us.May we, like John in his mother’s womb, be filled with joy as we remember Jesus this advent season.
Written by Katrina Banks. Katrina is a member of Hope Church Newham. She is also wife to Alex and mother of James (2 ½) and Charlotte (11 months)