Elizabeth is the perfect person to meditate on for Advent. She was waiting. In her society, a woman had no status without children. (Yes, I realize such a society is unjust, but that's the way it was.) Luke tells us that Elizabeth and her husband waited for years. They remained faithful to God, but God hadn't answered their prayers for a child. Zechariah got up and went to the temple when it was his turn. Elizabeth did whatever work she did. And then, all of the sudden, they find out that they are going to have a baby!
The scripture says that Elizabeth remained in seclusion for five months. Why? I think part of it may have been because she didn't want everyone to know that she was pregnant if she miscarried because then she'd have to deal with all the explanations and sympathies that are always so awkward. She may also have been doing everything possible to keep her pregnancy calm. Every society has it's own traditions about what expecting moms should and shouldn't do.
Mary was in a very different situation. She was young, probably a teenager, who was engaged to be married. Now an angel comes to tell her that she's going to have a baby even though she's not married. Yes, this is highly inconvenient. Her time of waiting is the time between when she finds out she's pregnant and when the baby is born. Mary was obviously on God's side of things because she doesn't seem to hesitate and says, "I am the Lord's servant." (BTW, the angel talks to Joseph in Matthew's Gospel and Joseph agrees to marry Mary and give Jesus an earthly father.)
Pregnancy involved lots of waiting. Waiting to feel the baby move. Waiting for nausea to get better. Waiting for the day when you can see your feet again. And on and on. Mary took a trip to see Elizabeth while she was pregnant. Elizabeth felt her baby, John the Baptist kick in her womb, which she interprets as God favoring Mary and her baby.
Mary's song, the Magnificat, is one of the best pieces of poetry in scripture. As Mary is waiting for her child, the Messiah, to be born, she is remembering the things that God has done for the people of Israel in the past and claiming his promises for the future.And Mary said:
Elizabeth waits for many years to have a child. Mary waits through her pregnancy to deliver her baby, Emmanuel. These are both pictures of Israel's waiting for it's Messiah and for the world waiting for it's deliverer.
God used these women as crucial players in his plan for bringing his kingdom to earth. Meditate on this during this Advent season.