At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" (Luke 1:39-45 TNIV).

There were obvious problems, so Donna and I hurried in to her doctor. Our son was four years old. This was Donna's second pregnancy, and we were worried. The doctor listened to Donna as she shared what had gone on the last twenty-four hours. Then he said, "Let's not jump to any conclusions until we do an ultrasound."

Within a few minutes of the ultrasound, our fears were allayed. There was our baby, just a little over eleven weeks after conception. She was not quite two inches in size and we didn't know that she was a she, yet. The doc gently thumped on Donna's belly and said, "Hello in there, let's see if anyone wants to wake up and play a bit." After a thump or two, there was movement of arms and legs still in their very primitive forms, but distinguishable down to the budding fingers.

We sat there in astounded wonder at the gift of life and the preciousness of someone we could not see naturally or really even know was there. But, there Megan was, and she was glorious!

When God chose to put on human flesh, he chose to enter our world like we did and enter into every part of the human experience. Jesus was carried in the womb of his mother. Just like us, there was a time that he was so small that his mother didn't know he was really there, except by faith and the testimony of an old woman who had experienced something amazing — an old and shriveled unused womb that had come to life with a dancing baby. In Elizabeth's case, however, the doc didn't have to thump on her belly and wake John up.

It is the beginning of an unfolding grace that still touches us all!
No, in Elizabeth's case, the Holy Spirit began the promised ministry of John the Baptizer in preparing the way for Jesus. He was testifying to Immanuel — "God with us" — as one of us. It didn't matter that Jesus was only about two or three inches in size and not yet a recognizable flutter in Mary's womb. The Spirit knew of Jesus' presence and so the Spirit prompted John to dance for Immanuel.

Yes, I know that those not inclined to faith can explain away the leaping of John as just a spontaneous movement of a baby or the baby sensing the excitement and pitch change in his mother's voice. But, Mary and Elizabeth didn't see it that way. Neither did John. He would do far more than dance for Jesus as he prepared the way for God's Messiah. He would give his life — from womb to tomb — to honor Immanuel, God with us.

So in the rush and excitement of all that is going on in the world this time of year, notice the baby bump of an expectant mother and the chuckle of little child and remember that the Holy Spirit had John dance before he could have shoes or his momma could comb his hair. And remember, this miracle wasn't just a special moment for Mary and Elizabeth, it was the beginning of an unfolding grace that still touches us all and asks us to honor Immanuel, God with us!