Preparing to welcome the surprise of God

Preparing to welcome the surprise of God Pause for Thought

Most of my friends already think I’m a bit weird – I have different beliefs, different patterns, different things to do (i.e., Saturday nights are the WORST night to invite me to do anything) – so I’m just going to continue that belief and understanding:

Happy New Year!

I know that you might think I’m about a month too early, but I promise you, I welcomed my congregation to church on Sunday, November 27th with that greeting. We have entered into a new church year beginning with the season of Advent.

I use a number of calendars: a January – December calendar to keep up with what might be happening in the world that is typically associated with the calendar; a liturgical calendar which begins at the end of November and ends a year later; and a pastoral year which is July 1 – June 30. It’s no wonder I sometimes get confused as to what the date is – the year goes by so much more quickly when there are so many beginnings and ends.

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation, a time of examining our expectations. During Advent, God’s people summon the courage and spiritual strength to remember that the holy breaks into the daily. If we have too high of expectations about how God might respond in the world, we might miss out on the moments where God is breaking into our daily lives. We take this time to think about our expectations, and whether they are ours, or if we can trust in God enough to be open to those surprise moments. Every time that something happens in my life that I dislike, I have to remind myself that there needs to be something else to look for in the situation.

Similarly, the Advent and Christmas story is exactly about that looking for something new. People were living in an occupied territory, trying to figure out how to be the people of God when they were being persecuted for exactly that – and God broke into their daily lives in the birth of a child. That child wasn’t born in a palace, yet was a King and didn’t simply arrive as a fully-grown man, yet he was Divine. Through the revelation of God in the world in this child, born himself to a child, in an occupied territory where no one would offer them comfort or a place to stay, we learn that we need to be open to the surprise of God – in the daily, in the ordinary and in the extra-ordinary.

God bless you in the surprises of this season, and through the surprise of the year to come.