As we wind down our focus on the theme of joy during this third week of advent , I wanted to share something special that I came across this week.
This amazing watercolor painting by Corby Eisbacher, entitled Jumping for Joy, captures a very special moment of joy shared among two women and one baby.
Recall the story shared by the gospel writer, Luke, when Mary visits with her cousin Elizabeth:
With little delay Mary got ready and hurried off to the hillside town in Judea where Zacharias and Elisabeth lived. She went into their house and greeted her cousin. When Elisabeth heard her greeting, the unborn child stirred inside her and she herself was filled with the holy spirit, and cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your child! What an honour it is to have the mother of my Lord come to see me! Why, as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child within me jumped for joy! Oh, how happy is the woman who believes in God, for he does make his promises to her come true.” – Luke 1:39-45 (PHILLIPS)
I love the way Elizabeth describes what happened within her womb as Mary greeted her upon arriving at her home. She could have easily played it off as indigestion or simply the baby trying to get comfortable, but instead she became aware of God’s power and presence and allowed this simple moment to be an opportunity for joy that she could share with Mary.
This passage is rich with emotion and future hope. I can’t imagine the conversations that Elizabeth and Mary enjoyed during Mary’s three month stay, but I’m sure they laughed and cried together as they each were preparing for their lives to be turned upside down with the birth of their sons.
Below is what Luke records as Mary’s response to what Elizabeth shared about her baby jumping for joy. As you read, pay attention to Mary’s attitude toward God and how she seems to be fully aware of how God’s promises of hope and salvation to Abraham and his descendants will be fulfilled by her son to be born.
Then Mary said, “My heart is overflowing with praise of my Lord, my soul is full of joy in God my Saviour. For he has deigned to notice me, his humble servant and, after this, all the people who ever shall be will call me the happiest of women! The one who can do all things has done great things for me—oh, holy is his Name! Truly, his mercy rests on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. Yes, he has helped Israel, his child: he has remembered the mercy that he promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and his sons for evermore!” – Luke 1:46-55 (PHILLIPS)
Before you go, I want to encourage you to not only look at the painting, but to take a few moments to gaze at it in light of the Scripture that it represents. Read the passage again, or ask someone else to read it, or use an app that will read it to you and as it’s being read, enjoy the painting and invite God to stir up that same joy within you that Mary and Elizabeth shared such a long time ago.