I love the book of Luke. He is most definitely a woman’s writer. His book highlights the plight of women—their unique sufferings, and their unique joy.
Luke opens his book with the story of the elderly, childless Elizabeth, and her husband, Zechariah. For women in Ancient Israel, the only thing more shameful than barrenness was pregnancy outside of betrothal.
In just a few verses, Luke paints both a barren woman, and a woman who will be pregnant by someone other than her betrothed.
And yet, this is a story of hope.
While tending the altar, Zechariah is visited by an angel who makes an unbelievable promise: the barren and old Elizabeth, will become pregnant and bring forth a son. And not just any son! This son will be a delight to his parents and “turn children to the Lord.”
Of course Elizabeth rejoices!
Meanwhile, Mary, Elizabeth’s very young cousin, newly betrothed to Joseph, has some disturbing news. She is to become pregnant by the holy spirit and give birth to the savior of mankind.
I’m pretty sure that Mary was frightened. Really frightened. How was she going to explain this to Joseph? Why would he believe her?
And yet, Gabriel doesn’t leave her hanging.
He tells her that her cousin, the elderly and barren Elizabeth is pregnant.
Okay, Mary must think. If this is true, then anything is possible!
So, she sets out on a journey to see her cousin, to see if this is true.
I’m pretty sure she didn’t tell anyone about her secret before she left. I’m pretty sure she wanted some verification.
But still, what hope must have filled her heart as she journeyed!
In this sweet, simple opening, two women are rescued from the depths of despair by the promise of light-in-new-life. It is a foreshadowing of the hope available only in God.
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In the second week of Advent, we get the rest of the story. We move from hope to peace.