Participants and Prophets

By Sherry Black

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 1:39-56

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.”

56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

Meditation

Mary and Elizabeth are both unlikely mothers: Elizabeth because she was old, past the age of child-bearing, and Mary because she was young and a virgin who had not known a man. What we find in both women, seemingly, is an embrace of God’s outpouring, a willingness to be bearers and participants in God’s work in the world. They both respond to their miraculous pregnancies from the context of their relationships with God. As such, they are co-creators with God, consistent with who they already were, celebrating God’s work, especially in this touching story of their meeting.

They rely on God’s work in and through them, and are, as such, artistic co-creators. Just as artists yield to “the muse,” the otherness, and the practical demands of their art, Mary and Elizabeth yield to God in their creative work in the world.

It is out of Elizabeth’s lifelong relationship with God, and the movement of the Holy Spirit, that she is inspired to cry out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord!”

It is out of Mary’s lifelong relationship with God, and the movement of the Holy Spirit, that she is compelled (like an artist) to sing the prophetic words of the Magnificat, thrilling to the downtrodden and those who wait on God, threatening to the powers-that-be.

May we too, out of our lifelong relationships with God and the movement of the Holy Spirit, be equally inspired to create artistic beauty with our lives in God, as we are individually and collectively called to do.

The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Ile – Oluji (Church of Nigeria – Anglican Communion)
Church of the Good Shepherd, Lookout Mountain, Tenn.

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