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Holy Expectancy

Can you be surprised even when expecting something?  Of course!   Just ask anyone who’s delivered a child.   A common phrase to refer to pregnancy is to be “expecting.” Expecting, indeed! Expecting a child means many preparations are underway. A nursery is established, baby showers are celebrated, and lots of useful items are collected: strollers, toys, clothing, baby monitors, car seats. As time marches on, it’s no secret the baby is coming.

However, it is also not at all unusual to hear a story like: “Wow, were we in for a surprise!  There we were, nearly 3 weeks out from our due date, trying to get to 40, but stuck in all the rain in Holly Springs. Out of nowhere I went into labor!” But it doesn’t have to be so dramatic, even the most predictable of deliveries still seem to leave new parents in that same place of knowing what was on the way, yet surprised when it all comes to pass.

Surprises can come even when we know what’s coming. That is how Jesus talks about his own appearing. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we’re still feel shocked when it does.

At the end of November, we will enter into the season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas. Derived from the Latin word for “coming” or “arrival,” it’s a time to prepare spiritually, relationally and materially for the celebration of the birth of Immanuel, God With Us, Jesus the Lord. One verse that captures the spirit of this time is Matthew 24:44: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” It is way to capture the look back and the look forward that Advent embraces.

What does it mean for us to be ready? When Jesus talks about making ready, in some ways it sounds so ordinary. In verse 45, Jesus uses an analogy about household servants, and says that the servant doing the right thing is the one who gives the other servants their food at the proper time. The good servant making ready is the one that makes dinner and serves it as usual. Even if you’re not a cook, I hope you can hear what Jesus is calling out of us, that faithfulness to our Lord in our everyday routines and service of other that demonstrate a holy watchfulness for his return.

We display our watchfulness by living lives faithful in the small things (and the big ones, too). By putting our pots and pans and bodies on the line for this sort of work. It’s not likely that anyone will ever write a best-selling novel about ordinary Christians going through typical days and being faithful in preparing dinners and putting in an honest day’s work. But the Bible, the best-selling book of all time, does have something to say about the extraordinary call on ordinary lives inclined to the Lordship of Christ.

Remember Paul’s words of encouragement to the Romans (12:9-21), a litany of daily life choices that shape our lives in enduring faithfulness: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all ‘…if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink…’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As people look at the shape of our lives, ready for Jesus’ visitation, will they also be able to say of us, “Those Christians never give up hope. We can tell.”

Let us continue to watch, wait and work together!

Grace & Peace,

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