While the angel was with her, it was relatively easy to make the momentous decision to say "Yes" to God, even though she must surely have been bursting with questions as to how the miracle would turn out. with Gabriel's departure, the questions must have grown and grown
Who would believe her account of an angelic appearance? Would Joseph really be able to love the promised child as his own? How would the local community react to an unmarried mother in their midst?
Mary was left in her familiar surroundings, but with everything turned upside down, and nothing to do except wait, with too much time to think.
She realised that she couldn't deal with the waiting time alone, but thanks to Gabriel's message, she knew that someone else had also received amazing news...so she set off to visit her cousin Elizabeth, another mother of an unexpected child. Perhaps her courage failed when she finally arrived at her cousin's home in the hill country. It would be only natural if she had hesitated on the doorstep, wondering what reception she might get.
But God was at work before ever she had opened her mouth to explain the situation to Elizabeth, and inspired by the Holy Spirit the older woman recognised at once how amazing this moment was. Her greeting must have been the most precious gift to Mary...proof that the angel's promise really was coming true, an assurance that God would take care of every detail for her as his plan unfolded. As someone who often needs this sort of human reassurance that God is in control, I'm comforted that even Mary, who represents most fully a human response of obedience, faith and trust, needed and was granted this extra encouragement.
And when it arrived, all the excitement that happily expectant mothers can feel, all the joyful anticipation of the future bursts out in Mary's great song of celebration. I imagine the two women hugging each other, clapping and dancing round the kitchen as they exult in what lies head and all that God has done already. Before he is even born, Jesus in changing things, making Elizabeth's child leap for joy, filling his mother with hope and excitement.
- My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
- he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
- From this day all generations will call me blessed;
- the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
- He has mercy on those who fear him,
- from generation to generation.
- He has shown strength with his arm
- and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
- Casting down the mighty from their thrones
- and lifting up the lowly.
- He has filled the hungry with good things
- and sent the rich away empty.
- He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
- to remember his promise of mercy,
- The promise made to our ancestors,
- to Abraham and his children for ever.