Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 7

By Steve Richardson

The Past and the Promise

Read John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son …”

In recent weeks, Mary Ellis has led the charge in our house to comb through mountains of files, documents, photos, clippings and other mementoes accumulated over the lifespans of our two sons. The pragmatic goal was to purge and re-organize these to reduce the space they’ve claimed. But the reality turned into something quite different: An emotional series of strolls down many memory lanes. Recalling and reflecting on the happier memories brought smiles and laughter. It was outright therapeutic.

Thinking about this in the context of Christmas, I can’t help but wonder what stories Mary and Joseph must have shared with Jesus about his birth and “growing up” years. The Gospels’ writers offered us glimpses, yet I suspect there were more and richer events that we’ll never know.

How wonderful it is, though, to have the stories that do exist. These stories remind us of the humanity of our Savior – God in human form – who experienced the world as we do. They inspire and lift our spirits by demonstrating the glorious magnificence of God. They elevate the status of the more “lowly” people of those days, so even the shepherds are as highly admired as the Magi. And the stories frame the foundation of Advent’s themes of hope, peace, love and joy. 

For more than 2,000 years, believers’ traditions of re-telling the stories have helped anchor and sustain our faith that God’s ultimate will can – and will – be done. For each of us, blessed are the stories, blessed are the memories, and blessed is the promise from our Creator that the stories provide.


As we ponder the Gospel writer’s claim that you loved the world and each of us so much that you gave us your son, Jesus, help us today to experience the great joy, peace and hope your act of love offers us.

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