… And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour  … – Luke 1:46 -50 and 54 -55

*   *   *

First she speaks of her soul, and now it’s her spirit, as if there’s a distinction. (This could well be another instance of Scripture repeating an element from one line to the next, a common practice.)

Either way, instead of admitting shame in her out-of-wedlock condition or appearing scared of the public consequences, she openly defies social and religious convention. Indeed, her utterances could be seen as heresy or blasphemy – here she is proclaiming herself saved rather than ostracized!

*   *   *

This experience had me thinking of the experience of opening oneself to what Quakers have called Free Gospel Ministry: “Thee will promptly discern the difference. Who can think of a more exciting – or precarious – encounter than that of being led to thy feet or thy knees in Meeting and being given, word by word, what is to be spoken? Sometimes it is like jumping off a balcony and discovering thee has wings and is actually flying. Thee will sense being held up in prayer – or coming clad in holy armor against the adversary, depending. To illustrate: I had an occasion in visiting when I kept trying to tell myself, ‘I’m not going to speak today. Give me a break, Lord, I’ve been speaking too often,’ but a succession of two or three quick vocal messages kept shooting me back to the seed I had been given for that morning. Finally, I sensed I could have no peace unless I were faithful, so I rose and waited for the words; all the while I spoke I silently prayed, ‘Lord, I hope thee knows where this is going, because I haven’t the foggiest idea.’”

*   *   *

This is he, who justifies by Faith in his own Name. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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