The joyful discipline of blessing

St. Luke 1:39-44

A friend, called to a war-torn country, writes, ‘I need a lot of prayers in this work.’ God calls, but never leaves us unsupported. The angel has told Mary about a soul-friend who could share her delight (v.36), so she visits her relative, Elizabeth.

The meeting between these two women, both expecting their first child, is one of the most moving encounters in scripture. The intimate domestic setting is vibrant with faith, joy and blessing. The Holy Spirit has overshadowed Mary; the Son of God has begun to live within her. Elizabeth’s unborn baby, who will prepare the way for the Lord, leaps in his mother’s womb for joy. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, blesses Mary with the authority of an anointed prophet.

Elizabeth’s pregnancy, late in her life, can’t have been easy. She must have felt very conspicuous, the butt of gossip, sharing her dumb husband’s frustration at his God-given punishment because he had failed to believe the very thing her pregnancy witnesses. If Mary needed Elizabeth’s counsel and advice, Elizabeth needed Mary’s friendship and trust. It can take a lot of faith to acknowledge the hidden potential in one another, but Elizabeth unreservedly acknowledges unmarried Mary as ‘the mother of my Lord’ – a clear statement that the child to be born of her is none other than the Holy One of God.

Elizabeth blesses Mary twice and her unborn child once (vv.42, 45).  We are often too reserved to show our feelings, but, when we bless one another, we grow in love. Instead of trying to change the other person, we give them permission to be. Blessing is powerful. It brings growth and more blessing. It releases creativity and joyful praise – and Mary’s Magnificat will be our reading tomorrow.

Practise the joyful discipline of blessing.

Prepared by Rev. Charley Jones,
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