We spend more time preparing for Christmas than actually celebrating Christmas. Our days are filled with grocery Lists, gift lists, baking, cooking and decorating. Let’s be honest Christmas can be a lot of work and preparation, it is also part of the fun. For me, I enjoy the baking.
With Christmas carols playing, I roll and cut the sugar cookie dough. Soon I’m pulling out trays of warm cookies and frosting them with a thick layer of butter cream icing. It’s my happy place… a place where my young children, nieces and nephews would gather around the table to add the sprinkles.
Just like we prepare every year to celebrate this beautiful and holy day, the Lord in His wisdom knew that Mary would need some preparation.
Her cousin, Elizabeth played a big part. As we read in Luke Chapter 1 Elizabeth had something wonderful happen to her. She had been barren up to this point, longing for a child of her own. In her words, she had suffered a lifetime of reproach, of blame, she was the object of scorn or contempt from those around her. The Lord was preparing to redeem those years that she spent aching for a child.
In their old age, when it would seem impossible to have a child. An angel appears to Zacharias telling him that Elizabeth will bear a son and his name has already been chosen, John.
He would be a child who would…
- Would bring joy and gladness
- Cause many would rejoice at his birth
- Be great in the sight of the Lord
- Not drink wine or strong drink
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
- Turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
- Walk in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord
Zacharias couldn’t believe what he was hearing and for doubting his lips were sealed until the day he would name his son.
Elizabeth stayed in her home for the first five months of her pregnancy. Why? We wonder. My guess, to stay away from the naysayers and doubters. She was hanging on to her God Promise. There are times when we must hold our God Promises, close to our heart, so that no one can bring doubt to our mind.
Elizabeth and Zacharias may have been weary of waiting and praying for a child, but the Lord was planning to give them an extraordinary child who was well worth with the wait, John the Baptist.
Elizabeth would be part of the preparation process for Mary. Two women experiencing miracle pregnancies, they had much to discuss!
Let’s look at this precious greeting between them…
Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,
You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true! Luke 1: 39-45 Msg
Elizabeth knows and so does baby John. The knew the were in the presence of the Messiah and both were filled with joy. Just typing those words made my own heart leap!
Then the visiting began. I am sure that Mary and Elizabeth laughed, ate, cried, prayed and encouraged each other. Such a beautiful time between friends and all the while Elizabeth’s belly grew. Reinforcing the miracle happening within her.
God knows how important friendship is. How it encourages and strengthens us. We see examples all through the Bible. We can find ourselves consumed with creating the perfect Christmas for our families that we forget our friends. Our friendships are a treasure, we must nurture and care for them.
For me, spending time with a good friend, refreshes me in ways nothing else can.
As we light our preparation candle this week plan to reach out to a good friend. Plan to spend time together eating, talking, laughing, even crying. Make it a point to encourage each other, this will prepare our hearts.