INI + AMEN.
Well, here we are again, continuing our story from last week. Well, actually moving back a little, picking it up at an earlier point. Today, Mary visits Elizabeth when she was six months along, and she stays three months. Did Mary go to get advice from Elizabeth? Did Mary go to help Elizabeth in her delivery? We aren’t told. We know the end of the story, though. John’s born, and Mary, then in her second trimester, journeys back to Galilee only to turn right back around in six months time to go to Bethlehem. And we all know how that ended.
But today, important stuff, miraculous stuff going on. Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy pales in comparison, and Elizabeth knew it. She knew her young cousin was mother number one, that in Mary, through her womanhood, the Lord was coming. In fact, the Lord God was there, in her womb.
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
((2. The Lord came through and for Mary.))
It’s all a miracle. The angel appearing to Mary, the miracle that God loves us who waste and destroy His world, each other, and ourselves in selfish rejection of His love. God’s love and mercy are so great that He joins us in our world to get to the bottom of the misery, to be under its weight and burden—the misery we’ve made of it all! He does it as one of us, to free us. He loves us His way, choosing the bottom, the least, the insignificant: some girl from nowhere. Then the most amazing miracle—Mary believed it! She was given to, given beyond thought and imagination, and simply acknowledge the gift. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.” Here is the miracle of faith. Into her nothingness comes the gift, and the nobody Mary becomes “the mother of my Lord,” the mother of God Himself.
Her response isn’t: “Yep, that’s me! How great I am!” Nor is our response: “Look how great Mary is!” Her song of faith, which we sing every Vespers, shows it, telling only of the giver God. For her He was born, too. She would die someday—proof of her own need. He left His heavenly Father, and He’d leave her, too. “A sword through her heart.” He left her with John, His beloved disciple. Then Jesus said and did what He was born through her to do and say. “‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” For all, and even for her. Yet Mary is mother number one, blessed among women, for the fruit of her womb is my Lord, your Lord, her Lord—God Himself, Jesus Christ.
((1. The Lord comes for and through you, too.))
We often think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but, according to worldly standards, we are nothing, insignificant, least. But we are not that to the Lord. He came for us. All the way to the bottom He went, through cross, death, and grave“—so strong His love!—to save us.” His being made least saves the least. His bottomless salvation delivered least to the least and lowly—water delivering Spirit-filled adoption, bread and wine delivering His body and blood that were “born of Mary,” as Luther has us sing.
And where He saves there His love is, too—for you and through you. The love of a mother for her child, of child to mother, of cousins for each other, of husbands and wives, of siblings, even of everyone in your daily life. God’s perfect love appearing in our imperfect lives. All our loves need another love running through them, First Commandment love. God’s love and love for Him (faith) are always first and largest. For only as all our loves are tied into God’s love do they have their health, life, and happiness. All our loves have their full meaning and fulfillment within Jesus’ cross-and-death shaped love. So after Communion we pray that, through Jesus’ body and blood, we would receive more “fervent love toward one another.”
There is joy in this gift. The gift of His salvation and love for Jesus saves us to the bottom, the least, the insignificant. That’s Mary’s story. Her life filled with His salvation and love, even as her womb carried the Lord Himself. So also you. We nobodies in the grand scheme of the universe really aren’t nobodies. Jesus saves us to the bottom, the least, the insignificant. Then He fills even the insignificant parts of us with His love and forgiveness. The insignificant parts of our lives, too. He enlivens and enlovens every corner with Himself. When you’re in Christ, even changing diapers and doing chores and homework shine with His love. He saves and loves all the way to the bottom of your grave. From there He’ll enliven you forever. So say His body and His blood, born of Mary, that are given and shed for you to eat and to drink.
INI + AMEN.