General CBF

Baby-Leaping Joy: An Advent Devotional

CBFAR adventThe following is a daily devotional from the Advent Devotional Series from CBF Arkansas. Find the full Advent Devotional for 2015 here.

By Jenna Sullivan

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. 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 this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (LUKE 1:39-45 NRSV)

After reading today’s text, I was reminded of a song that I sang with my peers at Wake Forest School of Divinity recently. The song told of the story of Christianity beginning with women whispering about a tombstone that was rolled away. Oftentimes we forget that the story we hold as sacred in our churches and in our hearts began with women whispering! They experienced something strange, mysterious, and exciting.  

In this story, we see two women who share deep friendship as cousins. Mary greets Elizabeth and the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps. Then, mysteriously, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as bearing the child of God, her Lord. The story of Christianity, the story that we have inherited that tells of a God that loves us deeply, came to us through ordinary women sharing conversation and love. I found myself curious about why Mary came to Elizabeth that day. I wonder if she was in need of support as a young, pregnant mother afraid of the unknown. I wonder if she needed the comfort of her cousin and the affirmation of the Spirit.

But what is most important to me about this story is that the extraordinary God is present in the ordinary lives of women long ago in ancient Palestine. God cares about us and often shows God’s presence in seemingly simple encounters and conversations. There is something so beautiful about two women and their unborn children discovering something new about life and God. God cared about these women and God cares about us.

As we approach Advent, we might find ourselves in ordinary situations. But let’s look for the extraordinary miracles around us. Let’s hope for baby leaping, Spirit awakening, mind-boggling moments in the midst of those ordinary times. And let’s thank God for those whispering, joyful women as we anticipate the coming of Christ.

How can you seek God’s presence today and experience unexpected, surprising moments of joy in the midst of the ordinary?

Loving God, we are just amazed that you acted in the lives of Palestinian women long ago and brought Jesus to us through unexpected circumstances. Stay with us and when we are bogged down by shopping lists and routine holiday celebrations, remind us that You show up in unexpected ways. Amen. 

Jenna Sullivan serves as a member of the CBFAR Coordinating Council.

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