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, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ ” Luke 1:41-42
I have long thought that our habit of calling the gestation period “expecting” is defiantly inaccurate. If we were accurate, we would call it “no real idea what to expect.” While we hope and pray for a child who is healthy and whole, the full truth is that every pregnancy is fraught with danger and the lives of every birth mother and every child in utero are at risk every time.
Our defiant inaccuracy causes us to romanticize the beauty of the pregnant mother and ignore the nausea and vomiting, the varicose veins, the oft attendant anemia or gestational diabetes. Our defiant dreams race forward to what the child growing within may be. We defiantly limit the moments of clarity and candor acknowledging that birth defects are real and that all children are not born academically, athletically, or artistically gifted.
We celebrate the meeting of older cousin Elizabeth and younger cousin Mary, both most unexpectedly pregnant. When reading that the child who was to become John the Baptist leaped, my heart leaps also. As Elizabeth pronounces benediction upon Mary and the fruit of her womb, Jesus, I give joyous thanks.
The paradox of this season of Advent, our time of expectancy, is that we already know the end of their individual stories. We live with stubborn defiance that in the middle of our chaotic, broken, and – as John and Jesus will sadly soon see – brutal world, hope is not defeated. Even in the midst of pain we defiantly celebrate pregnancy. Our hopes and dreams are not restrained or contained by reason or logic. The Lord of Love is about to come into our midst and come with forgiveness, fullness, and the gift of life eternal. The facts of life yield to faith in Christ.
Let us pray, with defiant inaccuracy, “Lord, come. Be born to us.”