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! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
Leaping for Joy
The pressure of the holiday season can sometimes suck the joy out of us. Will everything get done on time—shopping, baking, decorating, and more? Will Uncle Ralph lose his temper at the family party? Will Cousin Betty’s nasty words bite deep? Will my kids embarrass me? And what if the unexpected happens? What if there’s an accident, sickness, or problems at work or school? What if those I’m counting on fall short? What if my hopes and expectations end with disappointment and misery?
Take a breath and remember whom we are meeting at the manger. Even before his birth, Jesus brought joy to those who knew him.
The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that even though she was a virgin, she would give birth to a child, the Son of the Most High. His name would be Jesus. After the angel left her, Mary hurried from Nazareth to Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. As Mary greeted her, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She knew the one who Mary carried in her womb, and Elizabeth’s unborn child also knew him. He leaped for joy.
Mary’s child is our Lord. Everything that distracts us from him accentuates how much we need him. Why do we feel empty? Because we’ve tried to fill our hearts with other things. And anything except Jesus leaves our hearts empty in the end.
But remember whom you are meeting. The one born of Mary and laid in the manger is your Savior, your Redeemer, your Lord. He lifts you up out of the depths of your guilt. He fills your empty, hungering heart with the good news of his forgiveness. Leap for joy, for you get to meet Jesus.
Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 19)
O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
My Hope, my heart’s Delight.