Daily Reflection
December 16th, 1999
Cathy Weiss Pedersen
Marriage Preparation
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Isaiah 54:1-10
Psalms 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
Luke 7:24-30

Expectations or Unexpected Surprises?

‘Tis the season for many expectations…
This time of year is filled with many material and spiritual expectations, sometimes realistic and at other times, impossible.  As Santa’s making the list and checking it twice, children (and adults) are busily itemizing their Christmas wishes (expectations)…toys, computers, CDs, inner peace, peace on earth, family and friends enjoying one another, a sense of God in one’s life…
Many of us hope to experience the real meaning of this Advent/Christmas season.  But what is the real meaning of the season?  There is an expectation in the word, real, for each of us.  What do I hope for – expect – seek in a real Advent/Christmas season?

In today’s scriptures, we are challenged to reflect on what, when, where and why we seek something.  We are also reminded that in our seeking, we must be open to the ‘unexpected’ (surprises) of which God invites us to enjoy.

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus challenges the people with this question about John the Baptist:  “What, really, did you go out to see (in the desert) – someone dressed luxuriously?…(or) a prophet?”  Jesus seems to imply that the places to which we go, or the people to whom we turn may indicate what our expectations really are.

In this season of Advent it is sometimes difficult to tune into the spirit of personal preparedness or anticipation of God’s reign born anew in each of us and in our communities.  Our frenetic shopping, home decorating, card sending, and preparing for family and friends’ gatherings may drain us of the energy and openness to the experience of being present to one another and to our God.  Our ‘to do’ list overshadows the challenge ‘to be’ with and for each other (family, co-workers, friends, strangers, and God) in the now of today.

Can we expect the meaning of the season to appear in the parties, Christmas muzak, shopping, family gatherings, day-to-day home preparations as well as the humdrum of daily life (and hopefully in our worship communities)?    


If we are really seeking the meaning of the season, but also open to its meaning being revealed to us in our day-to-day lives, we may be in for many unexpected surprises.

Just as the listeners to Isaiah were probably surprised, we may be in awe at the prophet’s words.  Through Isaiah, God promises, “…though mountains leave their place and hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you, nor my covenant of peace be shaken.”  God also assures us that there will be, “…jubilant song…for all who are barren, and many shall be your descendants.”  This may seem like a promise of the impossible but we will not be disgraced or shamed if we are believers.

Where might we find the presence of God’s love and covenant of peace born anew in our world today?  Can we find the real meaning of Advent/Christmas in the midst of our work-a-day, frenetically paced world?  I suppose it depends on how we approach our journey.  Will we be focused in set expectations or open to unexpected surprises of God’s presence in our lives?  Will we be open to God’s  (presence) reign born anew in unexpected surprises or will we be too caught up in our own ‘to do’ list of expectations?

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