In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Everyone knows about the three arks in the Bible:
The ark that saved Noah and his companions from the great deluge
The ark which carried Moses away from Jochebed and into the arms of Bithiah, and
The ark of the covenant which the people of Israel followed through the wilderness, and housed in their temple until it was hidden in Mt. Nebo.
In today’s readings, though, a fourth ark becomes visible! The Bible does not call Mary an Ark, but the writer of Luke makes the case in today’s readings. By comparing Mary’s visit to Elizabeth with David bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem we recognize that Mary is the unseen ark who carries the living word of God.
Mary’s first act as the ark of God, the carrier of good news, is to visit her cousin Elizabeth. That act points to the crux of today’s reading: We need one another. Even Mary and Elizabeth, holy and well-prepared, looked to one another. It was not good for them to be alone. As the ark of Christ, Mary was able to bring something to Elizabeth. She had a gift which had been given to her by God, and which was so profound that Elizabeth’s unborn baby recognized it and began to dance. Elizabeth had gifts for Mary too. I know this because we are all arks, we all carry the divine imprint, and we all have gifts for one another. That’s how it works. We need one another.
What about you? What gifts do you have to offer?
Can you be present to another?
Can you be a friend to someone who doesn’t have a friend?
Can you pray for someone who has lost the ability to pray for themselves?
Whatever God has put in you is what is needed. Please, don’t hold back. Your gift, your life, is vital to the rest of us.
Can you mow the church grounds?
Absolutely everyone has something to offer. Your gift is not small or unimportant. Mary, the mother of God Almighty simply went somewhere. It may be the simplest gift of all. She just got on her donkey and went.
You know what they say… Showing up is half the battle.
Where should you go?
To church? The office? Or, maybe you should go visit your cousin like Mary did.
Why not take off and see what happens!
God is with you.
“Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.”
Linda McMillan (Lindy) lives in Shanghai, China
Photo by Linda McMillan, Hong Kong, 2010
The boy in the picture had received some instruction from the man he is with. I don’t know what the man said to him, but I could see that something was going on with extended family and they seemed quite sad. Maybe someone had died. The boy walked up to the altar with the man, and he seemed so sad and brave, but just a minute or two in he leaned over onto the man and it was such a tender thing that I almost didn’t take the picture. But then I thought that I had to. It speaks to me about how we pray together, whether we are on the same continent or not, we lean on one another. That’s what I meant in today’s essay.