Luke 1:39-45 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth
So notice that Elizabeth doesn’t live in town. The Bible says Elizabeth lives in the “hill country” So Elizabeth and Zachariah are “mountain people.” And so for Mary who is in her first trimester, this is a 2-3 day journey to go and visit her cousin.
What does this tell us? Well, Mary and Elizabeth are probably close, Elizabeth is trustworthy – this is the person Mary feels safe with “other than her parents.” This is an important relationship for Mary. Remember she is running here for safety, for familiarity, for support.
Are you familiar with that kind of relationship? The cool uncle, or the caring Grandmother. Someone other than your parents who perhaps you cherished growing up?
Well, Mary has that relationship with Elizabeth; and remember, this friendship is a grandparent and a middle school student. Right? 14 year old girl and a woman who is past her child-bearing age; and so watch what happens…
…And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “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.”
Elizabeth believes her! Perhaps Mary knew that Elizabeth wouldn’t get mad or judge her.
And Elizabeth says “Blessed are you” remember we talked about blessing last week and we said that God’s blessing doesn’t have to follow the rules and His blessings might not always feel like blessings, but here it’s Elizabeth – her cousin who is blessing her.
In Greek ‘blessing’ is the word Eulogia (where we get the word Eulogy) but a eulogy is not a good thing is it? – You only hear a eulogy when someone has died.
Is that when you want your good words said about you? Is that when you want people to speak well of you? After you have gone? My Grandmother always said, “I want my flowers while I am alive.” And that’s a good lesson to practice. Elizabeth – she eulogizes Mary – while she is alive. She sings her praises – she blesses her.
I have done a fair amount of memorial services and I suspect, I will do many more, but for as many as I have done – you always hear the same things being said, like “I never knew these things about my Dad….” or “It’s so nice to see all the people who my Mom touched. It’s nice to know that her life touched so many.”
It’s a nice thought, it’s a nice sentiment, but when does a person need a eulogy? When do those words of praise and encouragement need to be spoken? Do you need a eulogy when you’re dead? Or do you need your blessings now?
And so I think that we all need an Elizabeth in our lives, and so knowing that – each of us should BE an Elizabeth to another person. That means – encourage someone – lift someone up – now.
This Christmas we have the opportunity to give a gift that is priceless.
The gift of praise- the gift of blessing.