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joanna-kosinska-432648.jpgSo sure was she of the heart of her friend that she sought its sanctuary immediately upon hearing the shocking words, “You will be with child and give birth to a son.”  Frightened.  Inexperienced.  Uncertain of much, but sure of one thing — if she could just get to Elizabeth, her welcoming smile, her warm embrace, her confident spirit, she would find the refuge she so desperately needed, the strength that would be required for all the days that lay ahead.

So she hurried — not just to a town, to a hill studded setting, to a place called Judea, but she hurried mostly to the heart of her friend.

And as it turned out, her trust had not been misplaced.  Without condemnation, criticism or criteria, Elizabeth opened the door to her home and even wider the door to her heart.  Her affirmation was immediate as in a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you bear!”

Without condemnation, criticism or criteria, Elizabeth opened the door to her home and even wider the door to her heart.

Finally relieved from the burdens of her travels, Mary must have also felt relief from the burdens of her heart”. What would this news do to her reputation?  How would it affect her family and those she loved?  Who would break the news to Joseph?  And how could she possibly be expected to raise the Son of God?

Though none of us will ever be visited by an angel and told that we will be giving birth to the Savior, at some point, we each will be visited by a heralder of disturbing news.  The doctor with a dismal prognosis.  The employer with an unexpected layoff.  The husband with a confession of an illicit affair.  It’s often at these times when we, like Mary, feel the need to make the journey to the heart of a friend.  For comfort.  For security.  For encouragement.  For strength.  

Or sometimes that journey is made for reassurance of faith.  Faith in ourselves.  Faith in our dreams.  Even faith in Our Lord.  Elizabeth, whose heart had been prepared by the Holy Spirit, surely ignited the flame of Mary’s faith when she said to her, “Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her WILL be accomplished!”  Because faith was in her heart, faith flowed from her lips and no doubt straight into the heart of Mary, her relative and friend.

Scripture doesn’t record all the day to day exchanges between these two women, but it does say that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for a period of three months.  We can only speculate as to the content of the intimate conversations they must have shared while going about the business of their daily chores.

Because faith was in her heart, faith flowed from her lips and no doubt straight into the heart of Mary, her relative and friend.

But from the glimpse of their visit we are allowed to see, two things are apparent — Elizabeth’s continual pronouncement of blessings upon Mary and Mary, in her own voice, rejoicing in the Lord.

Full of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth undoubtedly knew the importance of caring for the gift inside Mary’s womb and indeed for Mary herself.  And so it is for us today.  Pregnant with possibilities but often overcome with doubt and fear, it is the Elizabeth in our lives who encourages us to bring the seed that God has planted within us to fruition.  And it is often her encouragement that causes us to say, as Mary did, “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

Some months later Mary would be preparing for the journey to Bethlehem, where she would give birth to the Savior Of The World,  But before she took that journey, or perhaps in preparation for it, Mary took a journey to find acceptance, nurturing, encouragement and strength.  Mary took the journey to the heart of a friend.

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