EP: Psalms 146, 147; Zechariah 2:10-13; John 3:25-30
Today actually is an official Holy Day in the Church calendar. This is the day when we remember Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth. Holy Women, Holy Men says: Elizabeth, who was then carrying John the Baptist, greeted Mary with the words, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Mary broke into the song of praise and thanksgiving which we call the Magnificat, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord."
In this scene, the unborn John the Baptist, the prophet who prepares the way of the Lord, rejoices in the presence of him whose coming he is later to herald publicly to all Israel, for the Gospel records that when Mary's greeting came to her kinswoman's ears, the babe in Elizabeth's womb "leaped" for joy.
Leaped for joy is how the Greek word is translated for us. A better translation for that word is "danced." In the times when our Gospels were written, and before, when the Hebrew Scriptures were being written and re-written, dancing was an important part of worship, an important part of giving praise to God, an important way to signal and release joy from hearts over-full. So, the softening of the image of "dancing" to "leaping" is a significant one. For John the Baptist's dance, and Elizabeth's welcome of the unwed mother are important aspects in the story-arc of the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. Just as King David danced, leading his troops, so does the unborn John dance for joy, praise and thanksgiving for God's work.
May we dance today with the joy of that knowledge that we all share: of God's undying love for each one of us, represented and carried in the womb of that unwed young woman.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer., All Rights Reserved.
Art: Cross No. 7, 2006, jfd+