During Advent this year, we are following along with the Episcopal Church Way of Love Advent Calendar and curriculum*. Last week we looked at how saying ‘yes’ to God is countercultural. Really saying ‘yes’ and living a Way of Love can change us and our world.
This week, we continue by considering the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). We all need companions on the journey, no matter where we are going. The Way of Love curriculum* notes that “Mary set out in haste [to visit Elizabeth]…The life - the Word - that began to grow within her could not be contained. She just had to share her good news with her cousin Elizabeth and set out to the hill country of Judea, a long journey. By going, Mary found out that Elizabeth, too, was on a journey of love.”
She had to share her news and find out if, indeed, Elizabeth also had news to share. When we are faced with something new, we want to share it with someone. We text our friends or call them up. We post on Facebook or Instagram when we discover a new restaurant or recipe. Do we do the same thing when we read an inspiring devotion or learn a new prayer?
Elizabeth exalts, "blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." We all know the lovely prayer that Mary offers in response. It is called the Magnificat and many choral settings have been done using her words of celebration and prophecy. "My soul magnifies the Lord," she praises. Her response to the new journey she is on is to join in prayer and praise with Elizabeth. "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name," she continues.
This image from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Seattle is symbolic of the link between Mary and Elizabeth; and between any friends who share their lives. This can be sharing joys, but also sharing sorrows. We should share both with our friends so they can walk with us.
Is my first response to good news a prayer? Not always, I must admit. Even though I might share the news with someone, I may not remember to thank God as the originator of all good things. I may not even really pause to recognize the blessings.
The curriculum asks “What good news do you have to share with one another?... How have you experienced your faith or trust in God as a blessing?”
How often do you share good things with friends to encourage them? Telling one another when blessings happen deepens the joy for both parties. Let's tell our stories.
This week, if something good happens consider pausing to say a prayer before moving on. Remember, prayer isn’t fancy words, it is simply a heartfelt meeting with God. Think about what you have to say ‘thank you’ for this week. Share that with a friend and with God. When we pray together, we offer Blessing to each other. When we pray for someone, we are giving them the gift of our heart. In all prayer, we are meeting God and joining in creating a Way of Love.
Again, we close with the prayer from the curriculum* suggested for use this week: “O God of Elizabeth and Mary, you visited your servants with news of the world’s redemption in the coming of the Savior: Make our hearts leap with joy, and fill our mouths with songs of praise, that we may announce glad tidings of peace and welcome the Christ in our midst. Amen.”
*Way of Love Advent Curriculum; By Jenifer Gamber and Becky Zartman; Copyright © 2018 by The Episcopal Church;
The Episcopal Church/ 815 2nd Ave/New York, NY 10017