[#pictureAdvent] December 23: PROMISE

20 Dec 22 Good News-01.jpg

By Rev. Dr. Marcus A.L. Freeman, III
District Superintendent of the Crossroads District of the Rio Texas Conference, the United Methodist Church

First, read Luke 1:26-30

From the time that my daughter began to put sentences together, she would say that when she grew up she wanted to be the president of the United States. But I remember vividly the day she made a major shift in ambition.

She was about five years of age and we were in the hospital visiting my late mother-in-law who was being treated for a heart condition. Suddenly she poised herself in this distant stare with a gleam in her eye as though peeking into the future with a seriousness that I had never witnessed in her before. She then said, "I don't think I want to be president anymore; I want to be a doctor". 

She had spent countless hours with her mother and me in hospitals visiting our parents who were dealing mostly with heart problems and she would repeatedly say that she wanted to help people to never have to suffer with heart conditions again. I have watched her quiet and steady determination and commitment to this purpose which has persisted in her throughout her years growing up.

Now at twenty years of age, she is a pre-med student at a major university on track to become cardiothoracic surgeon. At first, I must admit, I would have never thought that her wanting to be a doctor at the age of five was anything more than a childhood dream or fantasy. But her promise toward the achievement of this goal has been budding into clarity through her sincerity of purpose and devotion over the years.

I can imagine that few would have ever thought that anything special was going on with young Mary of Nazareth being a devout, chaste, and obedient young girl in this small farming village of a couple of dozen or so families. Perhaps her commitment was seen as her just doing her duties in a much more primitive time when life was lived off the labor of every able body in the family to just keep food on the table and survive.

Perhaps also there was not much fanfare or promise in a young woman living a life of such character in this setting other than enhancing her prospects of falling into a productive traditional role. But Mary’s quiet and steady determination to live a pious and devout life found favor with God to the extent that she was chosen to participate with God in achieving the salvation of the world.

May we never again underestimate the promise that can be realized in our most genuine and obscure acts of piety and faithfulness. Out of such devotion, however obscure or remotely present in our hearts, the very presence of Christ and God’s work to save humanity can be born. 

Prayer: Most gracious Lord, please help us to discover the promise of deepening our lives of personal piety and devotion to you and your word through your beloved Son and our Lord Jesus Christ by the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. What is the promise of living a devout Christian life in this way?
2. Why is it important to be able to recognize signs of pious and devout Christian living in ourselves and others? What are the signs of a pious and devout Christian life?
3.  What are ways that we can deepen or enhance our lives of piety and devotion to God?