There’s so much in the Bible’s account of the first Christmas that I could talk about it all year. I won’t; but I could.
As mentioned yesterday the Jews were in ‘wait-mode’ or even ‘a holding pattern’ for a good long while, basically expecting God to show up. One detail that I have completely side-lined in my Advent posts up until now is the fact that Mary had a relative named Elizabeth.
That in itself isn’t a big deal, but what is a big deal is that Elizabeth was pregnant about the same time as her relative. However, Elizabeth was nearing the end of her second trimester when Mary’s pregnancy began.
So Elizabeth was a little further down the road from Mary with the pregnancy. In fact, Elizabeth was a little further down the road in more ways than one:
- The Bible describes Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah as ‘well along in years’ (Mary isn’t the only one having a miraculous pregnancy in ancient Israel)
- The Bible says that Elizabeth lived in ‘the hill country of Judea’
Just as a little recap for you, Mary is in Nazareth when the angel, Gabriel appears to her. The end of their conversation goes like this:
“I am the Lord’s servant.” Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
A little bit of research tells me that the distance between Nazareth and the slightly vague location of ‘Judean hill country’ could be anywhere between 128 and 160 kilometres.
Now it’s unknown whether Mary walked or took the ancient world’s version of Uber: joined a caravan. Yet either way, if I’d just found out I was pregnant I can’t see myself in a hurry to travel over one hundred kilometres along some half-baked road for 3 – 5 days.
That being said… if I’d just been told I was pregnant – and under the conditions that Mary was told she was – on second thoughts, I think I’d be going to talk to an older woman who was in my family too.
Mary’s manoeuvre to the hill country makes perfect sense.
It also allows for some confirmation from someone who could have no way of knowing the message Mary had just received from Gabriel:
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”
If I was Mary, I think I’d be after some reassurance and Elizabeth delivers it.
As a side and final note for today: many people often comment on the way in which they believe the Bible is oppressive to women, that it denies their rights and that it nullifies their identity. I don’t think those people have read the Bible closely enough.
In particular, I don’t think they have read the first chapter of Luke’s gospel closely enough. The pages are just bursting with affirmations of womanhood and its undeniable role in the salvation of humanity.
If God really exists and is God, then there’s no need for humanity’s involvement in his arrival. God could have just made his Messiah appear. There’s no need for pregnancies.
Yet he chooses to honour women in his graciousness to the globe.
The question still remain as to why two pregnancies though… but that’s my teaser for you… to be answered tomorrow…
Yours in womanhood,