Made for Encounter
Reading this Gospel, I am thinking so much of the joy that was present when my husband and I had friends over for Sunday dinner recently. It was an evening filled with joy and real conversations. The group didn’t hold back, wanting to really know how the others were doing so conversations revolved around a significant career transition, infertility, decisions about graduate school programs, overwhelming seasons with too many responsibilities, and complicated romantic relationships. And yet, even as there was so much talk of hard things, there was also so much encouragement and joy. I have never been so convicted that God is working even here, in the uncertainties and the waiting. It is easy for me to read Gospel stories like this one and think that the people don’t seem real. Whether it is the formality or familiarity of the words, they fall flat, and I forget that Mary and Elizabeth’s encounter wasn’t that different from the ones that took place in our apartment. Their visit also didn’t end with this one story. I imagine that throughout their visit, they shared the stories of the angels’ appearances and their miracle pregnancies. Certainly, they shared their fears and maybe even cried over how Joseph might respond to this news or the difficulty of Zechariah going mute during this momentous season of life. And the encouragement and witness that they were able to give, that God had shown up so powerfully and most definitely would see them through those difficulties too. We were made for encounter, for visitation, for truly being with one another. Our journeys with God aren’t made to be in isolation, but to continually be marked by these encounters with others also on the journey. “Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst” (Matt 18:20) There is something of His Presence in community in a particular way, another communion of sorts where what He is doing is revealed in newer ways. I think Mary knew this, and while she may have gone in haste to Elizabeth in order to help, she was also going because she knew both of them needed that encounter, that additional revelation of what God was doing in their lives. It was almost a continuation of that initial announcement of the angel, to go and encounter another person on the journey in waiting for God’s promise to unfold.