I discovered the following excerpt in Walt Wangerin, Jr.’s book Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas, and the Kingdom. Wangerin’s meditation challenges those of us who are eager to take credit for God-given gifts. But this meditation also reminds us of those impossible and astonishing gifts God bestows — such as Elizabeth’s twilight-years pregnancy — but also the more quietly impossible gifts, such as when, Wangerin says, “peace comes into me, though I had been desperately restless and afraid.”
Wishing you an astonishing gift this Christmas season,
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan Internet Team
From Preparing for Jesus
Elizabeth, how difficult was it for an old woman to bring an infant to term? You did it almost alone. No one knew but your husband and your cousin Mary. And the midwife: when mute Zechariah went and brought her to your house, and she entered your room and saw your condition, how astonished was she? With what sort of grin did you greet her? And how quickly did the grin twist into a grimace when that mighty muscle contracted to drive a baby into the world? O mother Elizabeth, how did it feel to bear a baby in your old age?
The Lord has shown great mercy to you. Literally, the word is: “The Lord magnified his mercy with you.” It’s the same word that Mary used in her hymn of praise. [Luke 1:46-55]
And this great mercy shown to you, Elizabeth, is exactly what Mary meant when she sang: “His mercy is on those who fear him.” You fear him. You are one of low degree whom God your Savior has exalted. You are the hungry whom he will fill with good things.
And this is how “Mercy” always comes to us, isn’t it? — like a baby delivered in old age: the miracle we thought we had outlived, the gift we thought impossible to receive. It always astonishes us.