I love taking time during Advent to look at the bond between Mary and Elizabeth. Both women were pregnant for the first time under such unusual circumstances. They must have had a mix of emotions including fear, excitement and loneliness. The Christmas season can have such a heightened sense of loneliness for all of us. There are so many experiences in life that cause us pain, from relationships, divorce, death to struggles with health and finances. It’s easy to withdraw from family and friends when we’re struggling, but then we become even more lonely. When will we discover that the cure for loneliness is actually to reach out and share the gift of love with someone else? But, how do we find the strength to shift our focus from our own loneliness to blessing another? How can we experience the miracle of Christmas if we’re feeling so terrible? Let’s look at three things.
First of all, when we attempt to understand what others are feeling it changes things. If you’re really struggling to do this, look into your own life to discover your greatest hurt or disappointment and that will be the very thing that you can use to reach out to someone else who may be experiencing the same thing! This is exactly what Mary did when she went to see Elizabeth in Luke 1:39-45. The tradition at that time was that women didn’t leave their homes for the first months of pregnancy and so Mary went to be with Elizabeth. Their lives were turned upside down with fear, anxiousness and joy. The time they spent together was a critical time in both of their lives because they drew strength from one another.
Second, be willing to celebrate the joy that others are experiencing, even if you’re going through something painful. When we struggle in life, the great temptation is to be envious, jealous or even angry of others who have joy. Celebrate with them. I think that’s what Mary and Elizabeth did for one another; there was such joy from the announcement of the angel Gabriel; that when these two women got together, I can only imagine them giggling and laughing and talking and sharing the joy with each other.
Third, when you and I are willing to reach out to others, we can experience the miracle of Christmas! It’s the secret that so often we don’t understand. Do you want Jesus to be born in your heart this Christmas? The teachings of Jesus were clear about opening our hearts to reach out to others. Don’t sit back and wait, go and be a blessing and that’s when you’ll experience the presence of God, the true magic of Christmas!