By Lu Mountenay of Independence, MO, USA
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? —Luke 1:39–43 NRSV
Our task was to assemble an Advent worship setting to depict the story of the Visitation and the Magnificat. We gathered items to suggest Elizabeth’s porch, where Mary and Elizabeth may have had their spiritual encounter. Primitive pottery; an old, fringed rug; a candle; and a grass broom. I had a wall hanging from Turkey that was divided into panes, suggestive of a window. I propped up a small, stand-alone fence. I used two contrasting scarves to represent Elizabeth and Mary.
All was in place except for the broom. I fidgeted with it, leaning it here and there. First, against a large pot, then against the fence. I leaned it against the table and then placed it back where it started. I chided myself for being so particular.
Later, when I entered the room for the service, I noticed with chagrin, the broom had fallen to the floor—as if I had carelessly dropped it there. Several people sat quietly so there was no chance to set it upright. I sat to ponder the story…and Elizabeth’s broom.
I soon realized—of course! Elizabeth tossed aside the broom when she saw who was coming to her house! I could see the gleam in her prophetic eyes as Mary approached. We know her child leaped for joy in her womb. Elizabeth felt honored by the visit of “the mother of my Lord.” The bond between them was strong.
And Mary, having been told by the angel of Elizabeth’s late-in-life pregnancy, knew right where she should be—at Elizabeth’s side. Alone, unmarried, pregnant—Mary trusted she would find sanctuary in Elizabeth’s house. With Elizabeth she found joy which inspired her words of blessing and exultation: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;…” (Luke 1:52).
And it doesn’t matter where the broom falls. Toss it aside and attend to what matters most.
Prayer for Peace
Immanuel, we look forward to the coming Advent season. We focus anew on the being of our faith. We pray for peace on Earth, good will to all.
Close your mind to troubling thoughts from the past by placing them in God’s generous hands and letting them go. Let God speak to your fearful heart. Think of your hope for the future—open windows in your mind through which you can see compassionate actions. Reflect on the approaching hope of the Christ Child. What is your part in the reason for that hope? Rejoice in the Hope of the world.
Today, God, I will place all my hope in one manger.