Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
In the days when Elizabeth had emerged from hiding with a baby bump announcing her good news of God granting her conception, a sweet relative named Mary was having her own surprise visit from the angel Gabriel.
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” he declared to this young maiden of Nazareth, a community of peasants who worked the fields and lived under the crushing oppression of Rome.
Knowing she was startled and confused, Gabriel continued: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!”
With curiosity and a practicality far different than Zecharaiah’s doubt, Mary asked, “How can this be since I am a virgin?”
Yes, she was legally pledged in marriage to a hard-working, honorable man named Joseph, but as they prepared for their union, they had never broken their vow of purity.
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Look, even Elizabeth your relative has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
With humble acceptance, Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me according to your word.”
When the angel left her, Mary prepared her traveling bag for a trek to a town in the hill country of Judah, where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Over the years, many Bible study authors and film producers have portrayed Mary’s trip as an attempt to escape the judgmental eyes of those in Nazareth, but considering Mary left before her own baby bump formed and she didn’t stay hidden with this priest and wife for long, could it be that Mary was simply eager to see God’s hand at work in Elizabeth’s life and to prepare for her own miraculous story of God working in and through her?
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 fruit of your womb! And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For 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’s word to her will be fulfilled.”
Mary responded with beautiful, humble words mirroring the song of Hannah from I Samuel:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He has looked with favor on the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful, as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
For three months Mary stayed with Elizabeth, sharing long hopeful talks and most likely assisting with the birth of John, and then she returned home to face Joseph. But she wouldn’t give in to a spirit of fear, for she had been chosen for this incredible calling to be the mother of the Son of God. She would continue to trust Him for whatever was to come. Where in your life do you need to have the resolve of Mary and trust God to guide you for His glory and your good? Today as you read or listen to Luke 1:26-56, consider penning your own words to describe God’s faithfulness in your life and your trust in Him.
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.
Jaime invites you to attend Mary, a monologue and dance performance from the perspectives of Mary, Elizabeth, and Joseph performed by the upper-level dancers of Junction City School of Dance, where Jaime serves as the communications director. Performances are today, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each show for ticket purchases — $5 per person or $20 per family — at Christ’s Center Church, 530 W. 7th Ave. in Junction City.