One of the Sisters who had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land this summer discovered a precious jewel, hidden in the ancient village of Ein Kerem – The Church of the Visitation – Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth.
Delightful 1 min. video of Ein Kerem
Here in Ein Kerem, situated in the Judean hills on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, we are reminded of the birth of John the Baptist and of Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth.
EXCERPT FROM LUKE 1:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and said with a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
As Mary hurried to her relative Elizabeth, her joy at bearing the Saviour of the world would have been mingled with trepidation. Eventually she would have to return to Nazareth and face public humiliation. Would she be able to bear it? Almost certainly Joseph would break off their engagement. Was her faith strong enough to believe that God would miraculously intervene?
“What will Elizabeth say? Will she believe me? Or will she despise me in her heart?”
God was gracious. In all of Mary’s struggles. He drew her closer to Himself. By directing her to Elizabeth. He led her straight to His loving heart, confirming His eternal purpose for her life.
Elizabeth knew nothing of the prophetic words spoken to Mary by the angel. Yet no sooner had Mary set foot in the house than Elizabeth echoed his greeting: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42–43). The words burst from her lips in deference to the younger woman, now to be the mother of God’s Son.
A tremendous sense of relief must have swept over Mary after all the anxiety, fear and turmoil. What a confirmation! “It is His Son, the Messiah, you are to give birth to. So you can trust Him to bring you through, come what may.” Mary couldn’t help singing His praises. Great things He had done and great things he would do! From her lips flowed a glorious song of praise in thanksgiving to God – the Magnificat
Magnificat – sung in German
Translation: My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced and exalted in God my Saviour.
A brilliant ray of light pierces the darkness as God steps in, granting help and comfort. And like a lark soaring towards the sun, the anthem of praise and thanksgiving rises to heaven.
What does Ein Kerem tell us? Now as then God visits and refreshes us when we pass through dark, agonizing times of inner wrestling. He never changes. As a loving, caring Father, He provides a way out of our troubles, and His wise plans work for the best.
May Ein Kerem, which once heard Mary’s song of praise, draw the same response from our hearts. Ein Kerem is waiting for our song in the night – waiting for us to praise God, who does great things for us.
Above all, may Ein Kerem see Jesus born anew in us. May our response to God be yes – always yes – whatever He asks of us, because we trust in His love. This is the kind of people the Lord is waiting for. What a privilege to bring Jesus to a world alienated from God.
Adapted from M. Basilea Schlink, THE HOLY LAND TODAY
© 2019 Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
P.O.Box 13 01 29, 64241 Darmstadt, Germany