Mary Visits Elizabeth
“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
In my family, when comes to holiday traditions like reading a daily devotion during the Advent season, I am the first to begin with perseverance and the best of intentions. I hope to sit with my family at dinner while we eat and read together. However, if I’m not careful I lose perspective and the next thing I know it’s Christmas Day and I’ve only celebrated a handful of the last thirty days’ worth of devotions.
Uneasily I’ll admit that it’s not that I have forgotten about Advent or the significance of the holiday season. Instead, I have made choices to participate in other matters that require my attention, which makes me push the daily devotion to the side. I casually say to myself, “We’ll read two devotions tomorrow night. Don’t worry, we’ll catch up.”
In this past weekend’s sermon, Pastor Greg reminded us of why we have traditions and why traditions have existed for years. When I reflect on the devotional story above, I’m reminded it’s not necessarily the act of reading the devotion together that carries the fullest meaning. Instead, it’s more about the effort we give as a family to be present with each other. Advent is a perfect holiday in the Church that reminds us to hit the proverbial reset button and consider all the whys behind what we do!
So, what is my reason for why we do it? The effort is all about being present with one another and spending time talking to each other about our lives and how our relationship with Jesus permeates our day-to-day activities and thoughts. Although we start out with the best intentions of reading a devotion together, sometimes we end up pushing it to the side so that we can do something else. In the end, while very imperfect, we are striving to be present and with each other. Therefore, I’m thankful for liturgy, sermons, and monumental events like Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection that call us to center ourselves on the true meaning of life.
Gracious and patient Lord, we thank you for being present with us as we cultivate family traditions. Help us to draw near to You and to find nourishment for our soul through You and with fellow Christians regardless of whether we have perfected the tradition itself. May the traditions that we learn become disciplines that help us to love You and love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.
Written by Matt Clay
Matt and his wife Joanna and have two young daughters, Emery and Madisen. The Clay’s have been members of the Sheridan community since 2014. Matt enjoys writing devotions for Sheridan and serving in the OneSent Market.