Today we hear the story of Mary setting out to visit Elizabeth. It’s an amazing story. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Scriptures. There’s this incredible humility. You remember that just before this, Mary has been told that she’s going to be the mother of God. And in the same experience, in the same encounter with the angel, she’s told that her cousin is pregnant. And the first thing she does is she sets off on this journey, a several-day journey—a dangerous journey for anybody, never mind a pregnant woman—and she goes to serve her cousin. And so there’s this is incredible humility. There’s this incredible spirit of service.
I think very often we can fall into the trap of wanting to be served, rather than adopting a Christian posture of service. And the Christian posture is one of service, and service to others, and service to all those who cross our paths.
When Mary arrives and greets Elizabeth, the Scriptures tell us that the child John the Baptist danced for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. It’s a beautiful image. It’s a reference. There’s a reference here that goes back to the Old Testament, because David danced for joy before the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God for the Jewish people. And so when David danced for joy before the Ark of the Covenant, he was dancing for joy in the presence of God. And now, when Mary greets Elizabeth, the child John the Baptist dances for joy in the presence of God—Jesus present in the womb of Mary. It’s a spectacular image, it’s a beautiful image. And more than an image, it’s an invitation. It’s an invitation to dance for joy. It’s an invitation to live in the presence of God and to dance for joy in the presence of God, and not just in this one moment, not just in the moment of Christmas, but in our whole lives every day—to wake up, to recognize we’re in the presence of God. And our natural response to when the presence of God is to dance for joy.