Thursday, 1 December 2011

Mary visits Elizabeth: Advent: Waiting for someone to help

Miss Smith talked a few days ago about waiting. Can you remember the kind of things people were waiting for?
She was talking about waiting because it is Advent, the time when Christians get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

So I want to tell you a bit about some people who were really excited and waiting for that to happen.

The first you already know about – in fact you can tell me about her…
Here’s a picture. Who is this and what’s happening here?
This is Mary, and an angel is telling her that she is going to have a baby, who she will call Jesus. The people of Mary’s time were waiting for someone to help them. They believed God would send someone special to be their leader. They called him the Messiah, which meant the one God had chosen. People wanted god to help them because life was very unfair and hard for them. Their land was full of Roman soldiers, who often treated them cruelly. But it wasn’t just that. When they looked around them they saw there were people who were very poor or sick and no one was helping them. If you were rich you were important and people listened to you, but if you weren’t no one cared. They needed to change, but who would help them to do that? The angel told Mary that it would be her child who would grow up to do this. She was VERY excited.

But did you ever wonder what happened next – before Mary went to Bethlehem to have her baby? She went to visit a friend, a cousin called Elizabeth, and as it turned out, Elizabeth had her own exciting news. Because she was expecting a baby too.

Elizabeth was a lot older than Mary. She had been wanting to have a baby for many years, but it just hadn’t happened, and now she thought she was too old. Now, Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah was a priest who worked in the Temple, and one day he was there, praying, when all of a sudden there was an angel – the same one that came to Mary. “Your wife, Elizabeth, is going to have a child.” “That’s impossible,” said Zechariah. “No its not” said the angel. “You wait and see! And your child is going to be special. He is going to get people ready so that when the Messiah is born, the one everyone has waited for, they will be ready for him. They need to learn first to listen for God’s voice. They need to be ready to change their lives. They need someone to help them think. Your child will be the one – just like a herald that goes before a king, to make sure everything is ready. That will be your son – and his name will be John!” Zechariah was so surprised that he couldn’t speak, not then, and not until his baby was born”.

When Mary turned up at her house, they both had some news. Elizabeth came running out of the house to say hello to Mary, wanting to tell her about her baby. But as soon as she saw her she knew that Mary had exciting news too.  “I know” said Elizabeth, “I know you are going to have a baby and that he is the one who God is sending to us to help us. My son will be the one who helps people get ready to listen to yours. Inside my tummy, I can feel my baby jumping up and down in excitement already. God is going to help us to live as we should, to love each other and look after each other.”
And Mary stayed with Elizabeth while she waited for her baby to be ready to be born. Elizabeth’s baby grew up to be someone very special called John the Baptist, and just as the angel had said he helped people get ready to listen to Jesus.

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)
Here’s a picture of the moment when Elizabeth and Mary met. What do you think of this picture? Mary and Elizabeth were both very happy that their children would grow up to help others. 

Pray: for everyone who is waiting for someone to help them today, for those who are sick and waiting for a doctor, for those who haven’t got enough money for food, for people who are lonely and waiting for someone to be their friend. Help us to be ready to help them, just as Mary and Elizabeth’s children were.