Readings: Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule Israel…And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. Micah 5:2, 4-5
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” Luke 1:41-42
One of the best parts of the movie version of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings was a conversation between Frodo and Sam. Frodo found himself on a quest far beyond his own strength to accomplish, unsure of the right road, and afraid that a mistake might cost him his own life and the life of the world he loved. But Sam took a different approach. He reminded Frodo of all the heroes in all the adventures he heard when he was a child. His take: those heroes were just as afraid, just as fallible. They just kept going, even when the was wasn’t clear or easy. Perhaps their own adventure would be told one day, with children listening to their deeds of courage, the messiness and mistakes forgotten.
Mary said yes when the angel asked if she would be the mother of Emmanuel, the ruler from Bethlehem who would be a man of peace. She took a leap of faith, heading out on a holy adventure with no clear idea of how it would all work out. It’s a lonely business, bringing an ancient prophecy to fruition. There are precious few people in the world who would believe that Mary had been visited by an angel, but Elizabeth was one of them. She joyfully assured Mary that she didn’t imagine the whole thing.
When walking a holy road, all of us need someone to confirm our journey. A friend, relative, sometimes a stranger. Affirmation doesn’t change the road, but it makes us walk it with a lighter step.
A holy road stretches in front of you and me, disappearing into the distance beyond your sight. It takes courage to put one foot in front of the other. But somewhere not too far along the way, someone will recognize the road you and I walk – a blessed confirmation that we aren’t crazy! Thank God for the one who says to us what Elizabeth said to Mary:
…blessed is she or he who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her or him by the Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.