Thursday, January 2, 2014

Expect The Unexpected

Everyone has their particular way of spending New Year's Eve. Some people like to pass the night partying away the final hours of the old year. Others treat it just like any other day and go to bed before midnight. And still others may share in a movie or Netflix marathon of their favorite show. I have always enjoyed watching Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and seeing the ball drop in New York City's Times Square. Years ago my husband and I would spend the evening with our good friends who live in R.I. We would alternate going to each other's home, order Chinese food, watch a movie and then watch the ball drop. Unfortunately my friends and my husband can no longer tolerate staying up until midnight. So, now we get together for dinner on New Year's evening. However, I still carry on the tradition silently at home staying up by myself to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve. One of the things that motivates me to continue to watch is this fantasy that one New Year's Eve, Jesus is going to unexpectedly show up at the stroke of midnight. I've often wondered what Times Square would look like if Jesus suddenly came breaking through the dark night sky. Realistically I don't think Jesus would be that obvious as to come on New Year's Eve. Jesus told His own disciples, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father....Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:36,42) In other words, Jesus is telling us to expect the unexpected! Throughout Scripture the theme of expecting the unexpected resonates. I have been pondering some of the stories in the Old and New Testament and wondering about the feelings of those involved in these "unexpected" events. Israel had been in bondage for over 400 years in Egypt before Moses came along to free them at God's command. Who were they expecting to release them from bondage? When Moses showed up what were they thinking? Moreover, Moses himself was shocked that God told him to be the "hero" for his people. (Exodus 3) And who knew that Rahab an alleged prostitute who helped Joshua and his band of spies would end up as part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ! (Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5) The Old Testament prophets foretold of Christ's coming, yet many remained surprised when Jesus came and fulfilled those prophecies. And what did the Magi expect when they came to the house where Jesus was staying some months after His birth? (Matthew 2:1-12)  As I look back on 2013, I never expected God to move in the way He has in my life. It has not been an easy year. I had my expectations about how my husband and I would move forward with planting a church but God has added some different possibilities to the mix. It has brought me to a place of truly standing back and watching God unfold things according to His plan as we go along. Similarly, I never expected how my life would change with the birth of our first grandchild during the time of Advent. Her birth definitely pulled together all that God had been doing in my life during the year in a unique and symbolic way. People often enter a New Year with great expectations only to see them fade away after the silence of the bells and whistles on New Year's Day. However, believers in Christ live in a constant state of expectation. It began with His first coming and will end with His second coming. In between time we get to see God work in our lives in unexpected ways. We have an "everlasting resolution" that doesn't end when the ball drops. "Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen." (Revelation 1:7) "Behold , I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:12) So what kind of resolution will you make in 2014? How long will it last? Jesus invites us to come to Him and resolve to expect the unexpected. What an exciting year it could be!
Happy New Year!
Pastor Sheree