Genesis 18:1–11, Luke 1:5–25, Luke 1:36–56 (read online ⧉)
We are now in a time where having children is no longer an assumed item on the checkboxes of life. As people, especially women, become more educated the birth rate drops. The practical reality is that because women are educated they too can provide for the family in ways other than housework and childbearing. This is a cultural (actually across many cultures) reality. It does not mean it should be, only that it is. As women are increasingly joining the workforce, having children becomes less of a priority (for both husband and wife), for careers gain prominence.
There is something else that is occurring, and that is the rise of anti-natalists. These are people who believe that having children is immoral, because of ecological reasons or because of the normal human condition of suffering. In many respects, they have a point. What’s interesting is that this is not an abortion thing, so the pro-live versus abortion debate doesn’t really have a place (generally) with anti-natalists.
These reasons, along with advances in medical science, start to affect how we look at the stories of Sarah and Elizabeth. In our age, either there is no excuse to not have children (other than money), or there is no good reason to have children.
This is not to disparage anyone’s choices, but to help peel back the layers of yet another thing that the world no longer understands: the joy of a woman who had lost hope to have children, but now God would gift her with one.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth ties the messenger and the message together. God has come! God is here! While it is called Mary’s Magnificat, how could Elizabeth have not worshiped and rejoiced with Mary in this wonderful redemptive movement of God. Through old and barren Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Mary’s impossible Spirit-made pregnancy, God was doing something new! REJOICE!
1) Why is redemption tied to joy? How are they different?
2) If you were to decide to not have children, what is another way you might express or show an example of that kind of joy?
3) Whose joy was better/greater, Elizabeth’s or Mary’s? Why?