The promise that a small child might change the world
The story of the Holy Family begins with the news of another pregnancy. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, after years of having no children, is expecting a son to be named John. When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to explain that she, too, will have a child, Mary is afraid. But she comes to rejoice that God has chosen her.
Mary goes to Elizabeth, perhaps to celebrate both pregnancies, perhaps to get the older woman’s guidance. When they first meet, Elizabeth knows that Mary is carrying the Lord, and Elizabeth’s baby, still in the womb, leaps for joy.
In the Magnificat—“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46)—Mary expresses gratitude to God and her amazement at God’s work in her. She stays with Elizabeth for three months.
John and Jesus are taken to the temple a week after each is born. Those who witness John’s naming are astounded when his father, Zechariah, who has been unable to speak for months, expresses a great prophecy for his son. Jesus is recognized by two elders as the Messiah and is celebrated for all that he will do.
Imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt—terrified of what could happen as their child comes into the world, fearing threats at every turn. And yet also filled with joy, open to what God is up to and ready for the challenge of parenthood.
In these stories, we are renewed in the promise that new life always brings—the incredible possibility that a small child might change the world. Ask yourself:
- What do you think Mary and Elizabeth spoke of during their three-month visit?
- What would it be like to have your child recognized for greatness and embraced by a faith community?
- How much of that feeling is present when a child is baptized today?
Explore the characters in the Christmas story:
And if you like, go back over some previous blogs retelling the Story of Christmas.
—Bronwyn Corlett, Program Coordinator, Ministry Recruitment, The United Church of Canada