39 A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40 She went into Zechariah’s home, where she greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby moved within her.
The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. 42 Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:
God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. 43 Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. 45 The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.
Ever seen one of those “deals” online? I admit that I was “had” a couple of months back. I wanted to take my daughter and a few of her friends to the Ripley’s Aquarium, and it’s exPENsive! So I looked for a deal. I found a deal. It was pretty good. It looked pretty real. But after I’d entered my credit card details I realized something wasn’t quite right about it. Low and behold, it turned out that I’d been scammed. Credit card had to be cancelled, and as a result we didn’t end up getting to go to the Aquarium.
Just because Mary lived 2000 years ago doesn’t mean she hadn’t heard her share of empty promises. There had been a series of people claiming to be this Messiah that everyone was hoping for. It was the promise that the Jewish people clung onto in the midst of an oppressive government, high taxation, domineering religious power structures and a climate that could render you destitute all on it’s own in a matter of a few months.
So what makes it possible for Mary to believe this promise in the backwaters of Galilee? And how come Zechariah, with all his years of learning religious facts and practicing religious acts, isn’t ready to believe when he is right there standing in the very presence of God?
Did you know that faith is a thing you can practice? I can’t help but think that perhaps Mary has had some experience practicing faith. Her response reminds me of other people I have seen in our community and beyond that seemed ready to say ‘yes’ when God showed up – even to some pretty unusual requests, like:
- living generously in the midst of tight financial realities
- choosing to enter therapy or work with a coach on issues that have been haunting them for years
- teaching trade school as a way of being an evangelist
- stepping into opportunities to care for people when all of their anxieties and fears would say ‘I can’t’
I know these people. I’ve heard their stories. Some of them have experience practicing faith over the years, and this next ask was just one more in a long series of experiences of saying ‘yes’. Others I know are just beginning to learn to look for God in the midst of their circumstances, and to assume that even when they can’t see Him clearly, that God is always present, always loves them, and always has a plan to break in to this world’s brokenness with something better.
- Can you think of anyone you know who seems to have a deep faith?
- Is there anything you see them doing that you think helps them to practice faith?
- What are some ways that you practice faith?
- When you look back on your faith journey, how do you see your faith having grown over the years?
- If you’re feeling brave and read this before church today, I encourage you to talk to someone from Vox this week and ask them how they practice faith …
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.