BY: DANIELLE DICKERSON
Have you ever received some news that you had to share right away? It’s easy to share good news but have you ever had to share news that you knew was not just something that would impact your life but rather many others and add in that you could be stoned for this? Who would you turn to?
I can remember one time when I felt like my world was being shaken upside down. My family and I were happily living on the Southeast side of Columbus, we had a beautiful home, an amazing community of friends, and a church that we loved. I could never have imagined leaving this comfortable life we had. God had other plans for us; to move to Virginia. I was devastated at first, but obeyed as I knew this was a move God wanted us to take. My family went through so many emotions, but we held tight to what God was telling us to do and we saw Him change our impossibilities to possibilities.
This is exactly what happened to Mary. After the angel Gabriel told her that she would miraculously give birth to a baby, Scripture tells us that she was troubled at first. I am sure Mary went through a whirlwind of emotions all at once. She may have felt doubt by wondering if God had really chosen the right person. She may have felt sadness because she knew her reputation was on the line and that she very well could lose friendships, family and even her engagement to Joseph. She may have felt fear because she knew the consequence of having a baby out of wedlock was to be stoned to death. Instead of staying with all of her natural thoughts or emotions, she humbly accepted God’s plan for her life. God knew that Mary would need someone to walk alongside her on this journey of raising the Son of God. God loved Mary so much that He informed her that her relative, Elizabeth, was also going to have a baby.
What is significant about this is that Elizabeth was much older than Mary and had been barren all her married years. In Jewish society, children were considered to be a sign of God’s favor and blessing. If a woman was unable to have children, it was a sign of God’s disfavor and many in society looked down on these women. The Bible also mentions that Elizabeth was “advanced in her age,” meaning she was beyond her childbearing years. Many scholars believe she was over 60 but now she was six months pregnant with John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus.
Our merciful Father God gave Mary someone whom she could trust, someone who would love and encourage her, and someone whom He had performed a miracle in by allowing her to become pregnant in her older age. He gave her community!
Mary didn’t hesitate to accept the blessing of community that God was giving her. Luke 2:39 tells us that she “got ready and hurried” to get to Elizabeth’s.
Allow me to encourage you in that no matter where you are in life, no matter what trouble you may be facing, or no matter how low life can seem for you, God will always provide you with a community that will pray for you, love and encourage you but this requires us to be vulnerable and open to community.
When my family moved to Virginia, I hurried to find a church because I understood the blessing of community that comes from being in God’s family. This really is a gift from God. Allow me to encourage you to find ways to connect with the community around you. It may be by coming to church on Sunday, through Zoom, through a thoughtful card or letter, through a phone call, or you may even be really festive and head out to go caroling. While you are celebrating Christmas, be sure to thank God for never leaving you alone and for the gift of community He has given you!
How can you show gratitude for the community God has blessed you with?