"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." - Elizabeth (Luke 1:45b)One of the many Christmas decorations in our house is a painted piece of slate which says simply: "We believe." It is accompanied by either a painted sprig of holly or painted Santa (I can't recal which) but it obviously is intended to convey a belief in at least the spirit of Santa Claus. I thought of that piece of slate as I prepared and delivered the sermon for last Sunday. The Gospel passage is Mary's visit to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, while she was still pregnant with John. The quote above is part of Elizabeth's exclamation as the child leaps in her womb in response to Mary's greeting. We might even say that John started preaching even before he was born!
As Christians, we talk a lot about belief and blessings. Most of the time, when we talk about blessings, we talk about them as things that already are. We are blessed with a wonderful church, family, job, etc... In the Magnificat that follows this passage, Mary recounts something that will be as if it has already happened! She believes so strongly in God's faithfulness that she is able to proclaim that faithfulness by talking about God's wonderful works before they even happen. She might have even heard the words "Consider it done" from God, and so she does consider it done!
As the days are short and the nights are long this time of year, it is very tempting to look out upon the world with a skeptical, even cynical eye. We are still embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate is even now wrangling over health care reform. Our own state is dealing with a substantial budget deficit, and even our church is dealing with the aftermath of the church split that occurred earlier this year. There are many, many reasons to be pessimistic! Yet, if we have Mary's faith, we can say in the midst of all of this: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."
May that faith be born in us anew as we again await the Christ child. Merry Christmas!