Advent Devotion - Day 23


December 19, 2022

Join us through this special time of Advent as we dive deeper into the Word of God. Each day, we will pray and reflect on a different passage from Scripture. Daily Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, and reflections are written by our church staff.

Opening Prayer:

We believe in you, O God,
For you have made the suffering of humanity your suffering.
You have come to establish a kingdom of the poor and humble.
Today we sing to you,
Because you are alive, you have saved us, you have made us free.

(Cuba, 20th Century)

Scripture Reading:

Genesis 17:15-22
New Living Translation

Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”

17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. 20 As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” 22 When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham.


How often do you look at the footnotes?

They appear as these tiny, italicized words and phrases nestled in the margins of our Bibles, and many times, they go unnoticed. Footnotes of scripture provide alternatives to words within passages or details to context, but they are easy to bypass in our personal study. This week I was reminded, though, how important it is to read those links to scripture found at the bottom of my page.

Verse 15 of this chapter in Genesis reveals the words of God to Abraham about his wife, Sarai. After changing Abraham’s name, God unveils Sarai’s new name: Sarah. This is a huge moment in scripture: amidst God’s faithful covenant-making, a renewal of identity is offered. But the footnote connected to this verse opened my eyes even more to the glory of this moment. Within the New Living Translation, the footnote for verse 15 states “the change in spelling [from Sarai to Sarah] may reflect the difference in dialect between Ur and Canaan.” Seems like some simple details that take you into verse 16, right? I wouldn’t say so. Ur was where Abram and Sarai had come from – it was their past. This past had served a great deal of their time, including the beginnings of their marriage. But God was taking them somewhere new now, somewhere promised: the land of Canaan. By altering the dialect of their names, from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah, the hope of this promise is written so deeply into their story that even their names declare its fulfillment.

Pretty cool that a footnote can tell us that, right?

This information is full of glory and can speak to the rule and reign of God’s kingdom from the beginning of time, but I think there’s even more to see here. So, I ask the question again: How often do you look at the footnotes? Or maybe I need to ask it in a different way: How often do you slow down to look for the glory of God in the details? How often do you take a breath and look back over what lies before you, or what you are experiencing, or what you are hearing, and ask: "What more are you trying to show me, Lord?" I don’t do that enough, but what I’ve found when I do, there are always far deeper lessons the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me. And I’m not just talking about scripture study. His glory is in my daily interactions with those around me. He’s in my drive to the office. He’s in my mid-afternoon walk. He’s in a phone conversation with my mom. He’s in my prayers with my husband. His glory can be found everywhere – even in the margins of life that we sometimes fail to recognize. So, my question for us this Advent season is: Are we looking for Him?

Daily Challenge:

Make a list each day this week of the moments you recognize God’s glory and ask God what He may be teaching you in the midst of them. You may be surprised by the footnotes He reveals.
Today's reflection is written by:
Heather Winner

Director of Servant Students
Church of the Servant
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