Preparation for the birth of Christ

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39).

What did Mary do to “get ready” in the above verse? Perhaps she tidied up, or packed up something beautiful from her loom–maybe a recent project she was weaving. Can you picture her bringing a lovely token to her cousin, Elizabeth as they celebrated their God-given appointments to carry and deliver miraculous babies that would rock our universe for all time?

We don’t know exactly what she did to “get ready” to visit Elizabeth, but we do know her heart was fully prepared and ready for the enormous task at hand based on her immediate response to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be as you have said,” and by her glorious song, the Magnificat (to magnify) in the ensuing passages in Luke.

These responses tell us Mary’s heart was prepared for any task the Lord had for her–even one that would bring her utter joy and indescribable pain. Most young girls would have been shattered by such News. They would have buried their heads in their hands and sobbed–especially at a time when being pregnant and unmarried had enormously grave consequences–but not our Mary.

Mary’s family and neighbors may have shunned her. We know members of the community wanted to stone her.  Yet her heart was prepared to accept whatever God had in store and in her surrender to God’s plan, not her own, God blessed her beyond measure.

How did she develop a heart that was prepared for any task God would give her? Perhaps her prayer life…her worship life, was steadfast and strong. Her knowledge of God’s scriptures and promises were woven deep into her heart.

In Living Color

Recently, this passage exploded into living color while touring the Holy Land with a group of Christian journalists. After a long emotional visit to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum, our group boarded our bus, peering out the windows in tired silence as it wound down the beautiful countryside surrounding Jerusalem. We made a stop in a quaint village where uneven cobblestone streets took us back 2,000 years. The sun was setting; we were tired and weary. Then I saw the sign, “Mary’s Spring”.  We dipped our hands in the babbling water and imagined what it must have been like when Mary greeted Elizabeth at this site.

To stand where two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth, praised God for the precious babies in their wombs was beyond emotional. I wished I could have gathered my emotions to speak up and let my new friends know why I was overwhelmed. With a cracked voice, I tried to explain to them that we named our son Luke, after Luke chapter one. I, like Elizabeth, was not expected to have a child, and after many trials, just before Christmas in 2005, we learned first hand, “for nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) when we tearfully welcomed our miracle, “Luke”, into our arms.

Preparation

After standing on “Holy” ground, I can feel a shift in my heart as I “get ready” for this Christmas. I feel more reverent about this season than any other. This year I won’t focus on the financial strains of the holidays or pressures of a cluttered calendar as I usually would. I’ll be quieting my heart to “get ready” for the celebration of our Savior’s birth. This year, I’ll be making more room in my heart for Jesus, rather than making room for more stuff.  I hope to do that…I can certainly pray….for nothing is impossible with God.

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