People are welcome to attend our The Journey class on Wed at 9:45 or Sunday at 11:15, or online.
Week Three: Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth
Following the same format as Class #1, this version has many of the same questions my class will discuss. All references are from Chapter 3.
1. Opening Prayer (from Psalm 31 which encourages us to put all of our trust in God, not humanity)
In you, LORD, I seek refuge;
do not ever let me be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me, rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me . . .
I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to all my neighbors, and object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me . . . .
But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love. Amen.
2. Opening Activity — Dramatic Reading (warming up)
We will read the Scripture twice. Once from the NRSV and once from the CEB.
We need 3 readers each time.
We need a male narrator for each reading and 2 women to play Mary and Elizabeth for each reading. Please take a moment to read over the scripture and read with expression.
Luke 1:39-56 (NRSV)
Narrator: 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,
Elizabeth: “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: “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 things, 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, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Narrator: Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Luke 1:39-56 Common English Bible (CEB)
Mary visits Elizabeth
Narrator: Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42With a loud voice she blurted out,
Elizabeth: “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
Mary: “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
Narrator: Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.
3. Video Presentation
- Map of Ein Karem
- Showing where Mary had to travel
- Church built where John the Baptist is assumed to have been born
- Symbolic representations of Mary and Elizabeth in the courtyard of the church
- An exterior wall of the church displaying the words of the Magnificat in many different languages
- Faces of need especially children, both at home and abroad
- Mary’s anguish at her condition and her need of someone she could talk to whom she could trust.
- Mary’s determination to visit Elizabeth, despite an arduous nine- or ten-day journey
- Elizabeth’s immediate acceptance of Mary and her condition, and Elizabeth’s constant encouragement
- The need for older mentors and the related need to serve as mentors for those who are younger
- The various affirmations contained within the Magnificat, including the call to all who serve those in need of any kind
- The many opportunities to serve those in need, both locally and across the globe
- The eagerness of most people to serve others in need when such opportunities are presented
4. Group Discussion (Gather in groups of two or three, discuss one of these questions below for ten minutes. Take notes on your handout and report your answers to the rest.)
- Why do you think Mary was so anxious to visit Elizabeth that she traveled nine of ten days over very tough terrain, risking possible danger to herself and her unborn baby?
- Do you think that Mary sent word to Elizabeth in advance of her visit? Do you think Elizabeth knew of Mary’s pregnancy before Mary arrived? Give some reasons for your responses but realize that these are hypothetical questions; Scripture does not provide answers.
- Watching the video, we learn that Mary cared for Elizabeth during the latter’s third trimester of pregnancy even as Elizabeth cared for Mary during Mary’s first trimester. What do you think Mary did for Elizabeth, and what do you think Elizabeth did for Mary? Again, realize that this is conjecture; Scripture does not provide clear answers.
- How can we literally fill the hungry with good things? In what ways are people hungry today? Is hunger always for food? What other things might people hunger for?
5. Reconvene and discuss your thoughts.
- How would you define joy? How is joy different from happiness?
- Have you ever experienced joy and at the same time felt unhappy? Have you ever felt happy but not joyful? If you have experienced these feelings, describe them and the circumstances.
- Have you ever felt joyful in difficult or even painful circumstances, as with Mary’s unexpected pregnancy or Paul’s imprisonment?
- Think about the phrase “magnifies the Lord.” What does it mean? Is it possible to magnify the Lord? Why or why not?
7. Wrapping up:
- Elizabeth’s role in recognizing who Mary’s unborn child would be!
- Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy at Mary’s presence!
- Elizabeth declares Mary the mother of the universe’s Lord!
- Did Mary grasp the significance of Elizabeth’s words or was she concerned that her cousin discovered her secret and the possible results?
- Do you think the Magnificat reflects Mary’s understanding?
8. Lingering Questions?
- What issues did you derive from Adam Hamilton’s discussion on the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth?
- How could such a relationship between two individuals work to keep us on the right path in our lives?
9. Closing prayer:
Lord God, You have called us, each of us,
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke.
You have called us to share our bread with the hungry,
to bring the homeless poor into our houses,
and to cover the naked.
Almighty God, in the words of Mary’s Magnificat,
may we magnify the Lord who calls us to do these things,
and may we do them joyfully and thankfully,
We pray this prayer in the name of Christ Jesus.