SUMMER PODCAST REBOOT – this episode was originally published at Christmas in 2019.
Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s foundations podcast. My name is Luke; I’m on the staff team as assistant ops manger at STC Sheffield, which basically means I do everything Becca tells me to! It’s a real honour to be able to share a thought with you over this Advent season.
On Monday, Mick shared on the Old Testament prophecy that foretold the coming of Jesus in Isaiah 9:2-7 and Jack shared in Tuesday’s podcast about Gabriel’s visit to Mary in Luke 1:26-38. Both passages proclaim the promise of Jesus, God’s own son, who will be with us, reign on David’s throne forever and make all things right.
Today we will be looking at, Luke 1:39-45, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, which gives the first glimpse of the eternal God entering the human story and the joy we experience as a result. I have focussed on v44 and 45.
“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’”
The responses of John and Elizabeth show us exactly what joy is. Joy is a feeling, a deep soul feeling that “leaps forth”. John didn’t decide to feel it, he wasn’t even born yet. He just couldn’t help himself. This was the outward expression of his internal joy. A heavenly victory dance before the Lord!
Elizabeth just had to shout and share a blessing with Mary because she was so joyful. She couldn’t contain it. She was so full of faith and excitement that the Lord had fulfilled his promises to her and her beloved cousin. It was a reaction of “delight” to the presence of Jesus, and her communion with him.
For me, CS Lewis sums it up the best when he describes joy as a “sublime experience of the transcendent, the glimpse of the eternal”. It is the exhilarating and often surprising response to the eternal. It’s the times when you comprehend there is more to life than this, that feeling that despite my circumstances all will be well with the world. A knowing in your knower as one of my pastors used to say. For me, it’s the feeling I had when I saw my wife, Liz, walking down the aisle. It’s the feeling I get when I connect with Jesus in worship. It’s that beautiful moment when time stops and you see the world in all its shades and colours.
I know what you’re thinking. Well that’s great Luke and very poetic. What does joy mean for us in our day to day lives?
Are you feeling nothing but joy right now? Like Elizabeth you are blessed and I encourage you to share your joy with others. However, it’s more than likely, with this being the real world, that you are facing a challenging or even impossible situation as I speak?
Join the club! Liz and I both long to be blessed with a family; we have become good friends with uncertainty and disappointment in this long and painful fertility journey. We have been close to giving up many times and yet we have had a few surprising and profound moments, in community and alone, where we have experienced the joy of the Lord as our Strength to help us through the hard times. Let me encourage you that joy can come in any time and in any situation and we have a God who can and will do the impossible, however unlikely it feels. Like the great theologian Grandma Bunting used to say “it will not always be dark at 6”. Joy and breakthrough are just around the corner!
Lord Jesus thank you for the deep joy and delight that you promise from a relationship with you. Helps us on the peaks to share our joy with others and help us in the valleys to remember that they Joy of the Lord is our strength and it can be found in even the most unlikely of circumstances. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Luke 1:39-45
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’