You can read the whole passage of scripture here:
24After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25â€œThis is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.â€ Luke 1:24-25
One of the things I remind my church as we study the Bible is that our own life experiences will change the way we hear and understand and notice scripture. When we read by ourselves, there are word and ideas that will stand out in this particular reading of the text because of something that is going on in your own life. When we study and read together, there is understanding another will bring to a well-worn text in our own Bibles as they share their own experiences against it. It’s part of the pedagogy behind our Advent devotional design this year–reading scripture, allowing the Spirit to speak to us about what stands out, then gathering to briefly share what we’ve noticed about the previous 2-3 days readings.
During Corona-tide, as I have read scripture, there are particular words and phrases that stand out to me in a new way.
Elizabeth remaining in seclusion for five months is something I hadn’t exactly paid attention to before this reading. I might have passed a Bible trivia quiz about it, but I never really thought about what it meant for Elizabeth to conceive a child and then remain in seclusion for five months (until Mary arrives for her visit, perhaps?).
This year being as it is, however, I hear that loud and clear this morning. Those of us who have been able to practice seclusion during this pandemic have a new understanding of what that means, I suppose.
Elizabeth’s seclusion was not part of a public health crisis, or, I’m assuming, anything imposed on her. I plan do a little more reading about this today, but I wonder if it had more to do with what was out there or with what was inside of her? Was it because of her age and the general public’s inability to understand the miracles of God for her sake? Was it because she was determined to keep herself and her baby safe and things were always very safe in the hill country of Judah? Or was it because she was aware of the great gift she now carries and her desire to exist with this mystery? God is at work in Elizabeth’s life and she is keenly aware of it, and one way or another, she isolates herself and hides away for this season.
As we continue in varying degrees of seclusion, may we be aware that God is at work within us and around us as well.
Today’s O Antiphon:
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, pervading and permeating all creation, you order all things with strength and gentleness: Come now and teach us the way to salvation. Come, Lord Jesus.
God of grace, ever faithful to your promises, the earth rejoices in hope of our Saviorâ€™s coming and looks forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts to receive him when he comes, for he is Lord forever and ever. Amen.