Theme: Making Room for Hope
Written by Kimberly Williams, First Congregational Church of Fresno
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb.
Anyone who has ever had a baby human growing inside of them knows that once the baby starts kicking and moving around, there’s no turning that sensation off. It’s not like turning down the volume on the TV or changing out of a scratchy sweater. That baby in there will be felt whenever there is movement — sometimes the cross-belly rippling movement of what feels like a full yoga session in the uterus, other times it’s a little flutter that rests somewhere in between indigestion and first-date butterflies.
Then there are times when it’s the strained, sick-with-worry awareness of a lack of movement, which is even more unbearable than a heel to the rib. All of it is noted, noticed, overthought about.
I can tell you one thing after carrying three babies of my own — I never once felt any of them leap in my womb. Lots of hiccups and elbows, zero leaping.
In this story, Mary enters Elizabeth’s home and greets her. Both women are pregnant, carrying little bundles of revolutionary joy — Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist. As soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, baby prophet John recognizes the presence of baby messiah Jesus, and he leaps. This is huge. This is even shocking to someone who has conceived a baby well past her time and is familiar with God’s surprise blessings. This child in her womb is ecstatic, the Lord is here! In this room! The awareness that often comes along with holding life in one’s belly is on high alert and Elizabeth immediately understands.
There is such beauty in these two women in this moment, belly to belly. The connection they have is unlike any other. Both trusted the Lord when the stakes were high. They see each other, not just two moms-to-be exchanging stories about sciatic nerve pain at night (which is a powerful connection on its own!), but as women who believed—who believe!—and who are deeply blessed.
Lord, thank you for the leaping joy that comes with feeling your presence! Amen.