Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 9

By Dan Kelley

Who Are You?

Read: 1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Julia and I often visited her parents in Lexington, Kentucky. One time when we were there, they wanted us to visit the Art Museum at the College of Fine Arts on the UK campus. It was a fine little museum with 19th century French paintings, some 16th century Italian and German engravings, and some 20th century American paintings. It also had some student drawings and Kentucky artist’s works. Excellent horses, cows, and landscapes.

What caught my attention was a large, tall painting of a woman. It was hung very high on the wall and she looked down on us with power and authority. She was posed in the full portrait style of Dutch Masters of Frans Hal, Jan Steen, or Rembrandt. She looked like the wife of a wealthy Dutch merchant except that she was dressed in early 20th century clothes. Very expensive clothes and adornments.

She wore a full length, deep blue velvet gown. At her throat was a large silver necklace set with bright, deep blue sapphires. A white sable fur stole draped her shoulders and a large wedding diamond shown from her hand.

The artist was a master. You could see the depth of the velvet, every hair of the sable, and the sparkle of the sapphires. Even the fine white lace at her wrist was perfectly painted. The painting must have cost a fortune.

She had obviously come from wealth and had married well.  She had been a pillar of society in her time and place. Unfortunately, no one knew who she was. The provenance of the painting had been lost. The museum did not know what master had painted the women, who had owned it or what collection it had been in. It was unknown. No one could identify her.

As we enter the Advent Season, let us remember who we are and whose we are. The tree, the lights, the gifts, and the music are exciting but they are adornment. The coming of the gentle and quiet spirit who is Christ, Our Lord, in the form of a baby is the reason for our celebration.


Dear Lord of Mercy Divine, help us to keep our eyes on the prize: the birth of our Savior. Help us to remember that our wealth is in who we love and who loves us. Help us to share the love you have given us with the whole world and all the people in it. Amen.

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