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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 1:57–66

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. (NRSV)

You know the phrase “Make plans, God laughs”? It actually comes from “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht,” which is an old Yiddish adage meaning “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” I have experienced this sentiment too many times already. My most memorable one was that I spent over ten years studying art, entered college as an art major, and three months in I switched my major to political science (and graduated with that degree). Having watched me invest years (and their funds) into my portfolio work, AP art courses, and visiting art colleges, my parents were dumbfounded when I called home one day to say, "Guess what? I changed my major. I want to focus on making society better through policy and civic engagement."

Fourteen years later, I feel like I'm living out this more-true mission that God introduced to me a little later than expected. And even if it was different from my original plan, I'm very glad for it.

The same is true for Luke's Gospel today. Elizabeth bore a son—much later in life than she expected—and then surprised her entire community by not choosing a family name. This is not what the community agreed on, and it was not received with total acceptance. My parents probably felt similarly but wanted to support my decision nonetheless, so they didn't protest.

However, we know who John becomes. His birth is pivotal to the Christian community. John creates a greater impact than anyone ever imagined a small child could. John carries Jesus’ message forth in a way no one anticipated. God knew there were much greater plans for John then just being born to an older family.

Let us remember that no matter what plans we think are ideal or convenient or most logical, God will carry us through life with plans we never dreamed of, and we will be better for it.

Loving God, guide us to follow your path with trust and comfort. Let us be led by you to our truest call. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director,
Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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