Well I am fairly certain that yesterday I alluded to the idea that the first part of advent is all about expectation, and our longing for the revolutionary freedom that is on its way through the birth of our savior. When you think about the word expectation in todays context you will find that so often it is used to refer to expectations that go unmet or that don’t pan out. And I would wager that our expectations skyrocket when it comes to Christmastime and all that it entails. We plan and prepare, we are thoughtful and forward thinking and we envision moments, interactions and reactions that are often too lofty to play out in our living and dining rooms. Then what are we left with? Disappointment, hurt and crabby-ness and perhaps a great pair of fuzzy socks. I love fuzzy socks, they are a game changer for my entire year.
Today didn’t go at all how I planned, it was the final day of preparations for our trip home to Michigan. I expected a few last minute gift details, some packing, a few loose ends and eventually walking out of a cluttered, but clean house at around 10:00 am. My expectations did NOT include a 4:45 AM wake up call, a living room strewn with clean laundry, a water main break or a set of new tires. I ended up leaving a not clean and totally cluttered house at 12:15 in a state of total stress, hunger and fatigue. My expectations went laughably unmet today and instead of calls to friends and family we got to call a plumber and make an appointment with Firestone. Blah.
So often we think about all the scripture that was fulfilled and the dreams that were realized when the manger went form empty to full of a squirmy baby Jesus. However there is an entire side of the coin that we don’t typically take into consideration and that side of the coin makes up a good majority of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day. The Savior that they received didn’t line up with the savior that they were expecting, at all. They were living in a time of intense tyranny and oppression. Their day to day life centered around poverty, persecution and a tax rate that would send any wall street protestor straight home, dragging their picket sign between their legs. They were expecting a political upheaval and a king that would set them free from the very visible and obvious bondage of Rome.
Up until this afternoon I didn’t take their side of the story to heart, because I always felt that they deserved the persecution that they were receiving. After all, Israel was disobedient and they brought their issues with Rome upon themselves for their failure to follow Gods lead. But then, uh oh… I’ve failed to follow, I’ve whined, I’ve fallen short of showing the world the truth of God. Yet… I live in one of the freest societies in history, and yet that’s not what I deserve, at all. That’s just me, I don’t know about you.
Yeah so Israel deserved it, and you know what? So do we, lets say a quick prayer for grace, eh? The only difference here is that they missed the message and beauty of Jesus and we ( I hope) try see it, even though often it blurry to our eyes. We, just like the nation of Israel, will struggle with expectations that go unmet on Christmas and this can cause us to miss the manger’s stark and life-shattering message.
In the next days you will meet obstacles and opposition and you might burn a cookie or two or forget to mail a card. Instead of losing your religion, find Jesus right there in something beautiful around you. I am starting to learn that most of the time beauty is within 10 feet of us, if only we would choose it. So find the beauty, let it melt you, whisper a sweet prayer from a grateful heart and realize who is Lord of that moment. PS it’s not you.
As for me, I choose to breathe in this week and allow the same Jesus who filled the manger to sill my senses with his truth and all the small and significant beauty that he is trying to show me.
What expectations are keeping you from experiencing this season the way God is giving it to you? I choose to lay mine down and grab the sticky hands of my children and find joy in the simplest, yet most profound things that we discover together, typically on the floor.