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[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Luke 1:39-56. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.]
By Katherine Buck
Mary is on a journey in this text. She has just encountered an angel and agreed to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. After this intimate, erotic encounter with the divine, she needs a change in her life.
She is on the road to her cousin Elizabeth's, and Elizabeth greets her with a question: How is it that you come to me? We should examine this question: What is an unexpectedly pregnant teen doing on the road, visiting distant relatives? Is she visiting away from home because her immediate family is frightened, and doesn't know what to do with her?
But Elizabeth and Mary subvert our expectations. Mary is not frightened or ashamed, she is joyful. The two women laughing together over their pregnant bodies are not deserving of our pity or scorn. Mary, who knows who she is and knows who God is, doesn't spend too much time worrying about what others think of her. She and Elizabeth, in their laughter and through their bodies, create a feminine space of safety and love and joy together. It is this environment that offers us two incredible things: first, the idea that women's spaces produce laughter and joy and delight in the unique experiences of women's incarnation, and second, Mary's deep affirmation and commitment to her God, whom she magnifies as the primary actor for social justice in our world. Her understanding is that God changes everyone: God lifts up the oppressed and scatters the mighty. God blesses God's humble servant, Mary, and sends the rich away empty. Mary's God is a God of mercy and love and deep caring concern for the least of these. Before we even arrive at the birth event, Mary and Elizabeth give us reasons to celebrate.
Katherine Buck is a San Francisco Theological Seminary master of divinity student.
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