It wasn’t long after Mary had returned home to her little-shoot-of-a-town called Nazareth and Joseph chose to fulfill his promise to Mary (while God was simultaneously beginning to fulfill His 28-generations-old promise to David) that Elizabeth had a fulfillment of her own. The feels-like-forever anticipation of her own miracle baby was about to be completed. It was time for her to deliver. And they welcomed a son. Just like Gabriel said they would so many months prior. Long, speechless months for the boy’s father, who hadn’t spoken a word since the promise was given. He anticipated the too-good-to-be-true answer to prayer silently. His conversation reserved for the only One Who could know his thoughts.
And when their neighbors and friends and family heard the news that she-who-was-barren was now a mother, they also heard how the LORD had shown great mercy to Elizabeth. Magnified mercy. Manifold mercy. Highly and loudly celebrated mercy toward the much older woman who had waited so long for her prayer to be answered. And likely had more grey hair than she’d like to count. And held her babe, brushing wrinkled hand over freshly formed skin.
Suddenly. Just like that. She was a mother.
Her story sent a ripple effect through that little mountain town of Judah. Her story. While the years of infertility were the shared story of Zacharias and Elizabeth, it was her reproach that was removed. And her mercy that was spoken of. And her joy that they shared in.
there is a peculiar weight on a woman in the wait of a child
It’s something that her husband didn’t quite understand. And never really experienced. And it’s appropriate that, after carrying the weight of that wait around by herself for so many years, she alone was celebrated.
Because her reproach among people had been taken away. And every single person that heard her story now rejoiced with her. They took part in her joy after so many years of taking part in her sorrow. Where they once sympathized in grief, they now sympathized in a symphony of gladness. And they didn’t do it from afar. They did it with her. The Greek word indicates being in the presence of a person. In companionship. And fellowship. Showing joy. And gladness. And celebration. Living out what Paul would later explain in his first letter to the Corinthians: the church is one body. If one person suffers, they all suffer together. They all feel it. And if one person is honored and celebrated and glory is imparted to them, they all rejoice together. Up close and personal. Empathetically. Showing up. Weeping, mourning ad grieving with those who weep, mourn, and grieve. And finding joy in the experience of those who rejoice.
they rejoiced with her
Elizabeth, who’s name means worshipper of God, held that miracle baby close. And breathed in his smell. And kissed his face. And worshipped the Giver of her incredible gift. And I can imagine that all those people that heard her story and rejoiced? I bet they worshiped too. Because really, in the afterglow of a miracle, how can you not?