Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 17, Morning

By Rev. Rick Isbell, Retired Minister of Discipleship

Expect the Unexpected this Advent

Read: Luke 1:5-55

For nearly 30 years one of my neighbors and I hardly spoke to one another. It was not because anything had happened between us. Our lives just never crossed paths, and there was a high wooden fence between our yards.

Then the recent storm and tornado caused two big limbs in my yard to come crashing down on my neighbor’s wooden fence. That’s when the unexpected happened.  We had to start talking to one another. I arranged for all tree debris to be cleaned up in his yard. He started to rebuild the fence as we talked to one another.  I learned so much about my neighbor I never knew before. His name is Wilhelm; he was born in Holland, learned and speaks three languages and has a younger brother. From an unexpected storm, a tree falling down, and the rebuilding of a fence, we became better neighbors.

As we read and think about the scripture passage from Luke, Mary never expected to become pregnant as a virgin. Elizabeth and Zechariah never expected to have a child due to their old age. And Joseph and Mary never expected for their son to be born in a place reserved for animals and to be visited by lowly shepherds as well as aristocracy from Persia.

God’s Holy Spirit has a way of changing lives through the unexpected. God did it with Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, and God did it with Wilhelm and me. This Advent I hope you will be open to and see God acting through those events you did not expect.


Oh God, may I never limit the ways you can act in my life. Open my eyes and ears to the work of the Holy Spirit in ways I least expect.

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