Hopes and Expectations
What are your best hopes for this Advent and Christmas season?
Imagine that its Epiphany (January 6), and you are reflecting on all that happened up till then ,,, what would have you expected to happen? What will it take on your part to make it all happen? Where did you expect to meet Jesus in this season? Where did God come to meet you in your daily life?
At the heart of Christmas is the simple truth that God comes to meet us in Jesus Christ, and in coming into our lives, saves us from sin and death by reconciling us to God. At the heart of Advent is the expectation of Jesus' coming ... and our watchful, hopeful, waiting for his appearing. So, as you use your imagination to reflect on this season from the yet unwritten future story of your life, consider how God is preparing your now to meet Jesus in the days and weeks ahead. Expect to meet Jesus. Keep awake and alert for signs of God's kingdom. Keep faith in God's presence in all situation. Keep hope that God brings good out of evil. At the same time, though, expect to be surprised by the unexpectedness of the meeting.
On December 17, at 5:30 p.m. our Sunday school and choir are presenting a Christmas musical about a shepherd boy who immersed himself in God's word, looking for the coming of God's anointed. He goes out searching, expecting to meet the promised savior, but along the way he is sidetracked by people in need. While he cares for them, he misses the angels, the glowing scene around the manger, everything. He is disappointed because his Christmas expectations didn't materialize. But a messenger of God comes to tell him that he didn't miss Jesus at all, but met him in the people he helped! He saw Jesus in the cold, the thirsty and lonely people who met him on the way!
We may discover by January 6 that our best hopes for the season failed to come about. We will fail to do the stuff we want to do, and we will find ourselves doing things we never anticipated doing. We may discover that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. And yet, if we enter this season open to God's will and movement in our lives -- like Mary and Joseph and John and Isaiah -- we may also discover on January 6, that God came into our lives in the most amazing, unexpected and life-changing ways.
After all, maybe our best hopes for this season have nothing to do with decorations or presents or even family gatherings, but instead our prayers are answered when by God's grace, love and mercy we find that God's kingdom has come among us, and God's will has been done for us, as well as in and through us.
We have a lot planned at St. Paul's in the next month: worship, Sunday school, activities, studies and more. It is my prayer for you, that God uses each item on our calendar to strengthen your faith and deepen your love for God. Invite your friends to join you. After all, you never know how God might work through your kindness and compassion to answer your neighbors' prayers and fulfilling their best hopes for this month.
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