A Friend Like Elizabeth

Erin Randle | Dec. 9, 2021

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Several different friends stepped into my life recently in very specific ways I didn’t even know to ask for. Someone gave me a gift that made me weep, someone talked me through some complicated feelings, and a couple of someones showed up with big acts of service. I don’t know where you find a friend you can trust to clear up that real good funk building in your fridge without making you feel like a troll about it, but we all need one.

Elizabeth is one of those friends.

After Mary heard the very unexpected miracle virgin pregnancy announcement, the angel told her about her cousin Elizabeth who had conceived a child in her old age. Mary then booked it straight out of her own town and into the hills to find her.

Elizabeth has seen some things. In response to her own miracle pregnancy, she says, “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1:25) What does it feel like to live your whole life in disgrace over something you couldn’t control? What better place for Mary to run when she’s looking down the barrel of a baby bump about to pop in a town where everyone knows she’s unmarried than to a woman who knows a thing or two about fending off sideways glances?

I’ve never before wondered why Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. Why not with her own mother in her own town? Or a closer relative like an aunt or sister? Or with Joseph’s family? Why Elizabeth?

Maybe because when Elizabeth hears Mary’s voice, she launches into the loudest, longest, most joyful welcome any of us could ever expect. Have you ever walked through a door and had someone practically scream in excitement at just the thought of seeing you? I picture Elizabeth dropping the bread dough she’s working, throwing her flour-covered hands into the air, and running to the front door as she laughs out, “It’s YOU!! Oh, Mary, how did I get so lucky?” Really, it’s, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (vs 43), but I read it with the same vibe.

I think Mary needed that reassurance.

She needed that friend.

The angel was the message and the guarantee. She didn’t argue with the angel, but Mary didn’t rejoice in front of the angel, either. She rejoiced in front of her friend. Her song is Luke 1:46-55 and it’s what she says immediately after Elizabeth’s greeting, perhaps because of Elizabeth’s greeting.

Joyful welcome. Deep sigh. Big praise.

Mary took her big news to the front door of a woman she could trust who looked her in the face, affirmed who Mary was and what she was about, received her big, messy circumstance with joy, and then opened her home. Mary never even had to ask.

We’ve been getting nothing but big news for a very long time now. We’re experiencing ongoing collective trauma thanks to pandemics, politics, constant conflict, loss...the list is long. And maybe (probably) we’re all experiencing some specific personal trauma. Financial uncertainty, job changes, school insecurity...actually, I’m going to stop here because thinking through this list is really bumming me out. All that to say, if you feel a little rough and road weary, I feel the same. Wouldn’t you like to receive Elizabeth’s greeting?

Let’s give Mary’s battle some credit. Let’s wipe away a bit of the stoic, beatific perfection we’ve painted all over her image. I believe she was entirely faithful, but not always at peace. She had troubled thoughts. She had questions. She had morning sickness. And she had Elizabeth, right by her side,
for three months. They were pregnant and waiting together.

This present time is pregnant and heavy. Whatever God is birthing through all of this, it feels like delivery is still a little ways away and we are all waiting together.

We do not all have friends or family like Elizabeth. If you need it, let me be your Elizabeth in this moment. I made focaccia one time this year and I’m essentially a baker now, so let’s pretend I hear your voice at my door, something inside me leaps with joy, and I run to you with flour-covered hands, laughing your name as I go. You have come with your big news, and I yell, “It’s YOU!!” I say, “Blessed are YOU. The Lord will fulfill his promises to YOU.” Because it is true. He will. And in the meantime, we can be each other's Elizabeths. We can welcome each other home.

watercolor forest.png


You are good and you are sovereign and you will fulfill your promises to us. In this time of uncertainty and waiting, make us tender to your Spirit. Open our hearts to the needs of our neighbors. Let us be Elizabeths to each other and remind us we are always welcome home.