Building each other up.
Scripture Reference and Application
Luke 1:39–56 NIV. Mary and Elizabeth encouraged each other and built each other’s faith as they both praised the Savior. We too need those kinds of relationships in our life.
Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Invite the women to come in their ugly Christmas sweaters. Award prizes in numerous categories: ugliest, most original, one with the most lights, funniest, craziest. You can purchase ugly sweater items including award ribbons from www.funexpress.com.
Take a picture of the entire group that can be printed during the program. If this is difficult, have them printed for distribution the following week. Individual pictures could also be taken.
Give each of the women a frame to decorate for the group picture. Provide various craft items to use: pens, stickers, jewels, friendship words.
Bounce the Ball
The first woman bounces the ball to another woman, and as she does, she answers the question. That woman passes the ball to the next woman and answers the same question. Some suggested questions:
- Something you do not know about me is …
- My most embarrassing moment was when …
- If I could be anything or anyone in the world, I would be …
- I’m afraid of …
- If I could be granted one wish, it would be …
Questions to Think About
Am I the kind of friend someone can count on?
Am I trustworthy?
Do I have someone in my life who I connect with? If not, how can I develop this type of friendship?
Is God placing a woman on my heart with whom I can connect?
Soul Connections for Christmas
Read Luke 1:39-56 NIV.
All women need connection. The story is told about a group of village women who met down by the river to wash their clothes. When everyone got a washing machine, there was no longer a need to go to the river, and they stopped meeting together. Suddenly, depression spiked among the villagers. It wasn’t about getting their wash done that meant so much to the women, it was about what happened during their time together doing their washing.
We all desire to have one or two women in our lives with whom we can connect. We want someone who accepts us for who we are, wants to be with us, and grows with us. In our Bible passage, Luke talks about that kind of relationship. It is a story of two women who knew each other’s struggles, who encouraged each other, prayed for each other and celebrated with one another. We know from scripture that Elizabeth was older, and Mary was only a teenager. We are not told what transpired that nurtured their strong connection, but it is evident from the passage that they loved each other.
In Luke chapter one, we read that the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah and shared with him that God heard his prayers and was about to answer them. It does not say if he was praying for a son since his wife Elizabeth was now very old or for the coming Messiah. What we do know is that God heard his prayer and answered. Like most of us, when it seems impossible, we question and doubt. Because of that doubt, Zechariah was unable to speak until the baby was born. It must have been a shock to Elizabeth when her husband came home mute and tried to explain she would be having a baby. I am sure many times during her marriage, especially the early years, she cried, prayed, and begged God for a son, yet she remained barren. How exciting, scary, and foreign this must have been to her at her age.
Six months later, that same angel appeared to Mary and told her she was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah. Imagine the puzzled look on her face since she was not married and was a virgin. It is evident Mary believed because when she heard Elizabeth was six months pregnant, she went to see her. We are not sure when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she became pregnant. Was it at the instant Gabriel spoke those words? It could have been during her journey to see her cousin. Was it when the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s stomach? No one knows, but we know it happened.
What a sight this must have been when Mary entered the room to celebrate an answered prayer. They must have prayed about this together for years, and now the prayer was answered. It was a miracle. I love the fact that somehow Elizabeth knew Mary would have a baby as well, and that he would be a special baby. The scripture does not say that Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth and told her about Mary being pregnant. I imagine that when her baby leaped as he did, it was the Holy Spirit revealing that truth to her. This is a beautiful picture of two women’s souls connecting in an intimate moment. Elizabeth probably mentored Mary in her younger years and a bond developed between them. Their souls connected as they listened to each other, shared in their faith, and prayed together.
Life is hard. We have good times, bad times, ugly moments, beautiful moments, moments of celebration and disappointment. When we are facing these on our own, it can become unbearable, depressing, and lonely. God is always with us, and He walks in life with us, but there is something about a gentle human touch that warms the soul. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We need each other. We need that one person to reach out to when we receive good, bad, exciting, or devastating news—someone with whom we can share God’s goodness. If you do not have an Elizabeth or Mary in your life, I encourage you to step out in faith and find that person. God will provide her. You need to pray, listen, and respond as the Spirit leads.
Prayer: Lord, we know you are a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and we thank You for being our friend. If we choose to allow them, You have provided people to walk this journey with us. Your Word tells us to love one another and encourage each other. Help us to do better at being that kind of friend.
Thank you for examples of friendship in the scriptures. Help us to love like Johnathan loved David. Help us be a faithful daughter-in-law like Ruth was to Naomi. Help us to support our friends in their moments of weakness as Aaron did for Moses, and to celebrate with each other as Mary did with Elizabeth.
Some are struggling with relationships. Lord, please send someone their way to love and walk with them. Some find trust difficult because of a broken promise or relationship. Father, heal those wounds. Thank you for reminding us how important it is to connect with others through your Word. May it be so for each one of us. Amen.