Monthly Archives: November 2011

Expect the Unexpected

This post is a contribution to the Advent Synchroblog “Jesus Is Coming: What Do You Expect?”  I’ll put links to other’s contribution at the end of this post as they become available.

I have expectations!  I definitely have expectations!
They consist of me expecting a bunch of stuff to happen that will make life better. Not just for me – but for the world as a whole. And I think that is a good thing. These kind of expectations keep me getting up in the morning. These kind of expectations keep me looking for the good in people. These kind of expectations keep me believing that it will get better. These kind of expectations keep me hopeful. But expectations are only the beginning. It’s the unexpected things of life that have the potential to change us and the world we live in.

The Christmas story has a lot of unexpected things going on.  A pregnant virgin, a baby who is God, a star that guides, angels making announcements to shepherds.  Yes, Jesus burst onto the scene in an unexpected way, at an unexpected time, in an unexpected place, amid unexpected events – but that was only the beginning.  Throughout his life we continue to see a pattern of the unexpected taking place.
His family was bewildered.
Religious leaders were perplexed.
His own followers were baffled.
He wasn’t supposed to wash his disciples feet!
Why wouldn’t he allow the sword to be taken up against those who were trying to have him killed?
Who would have thought he would spend time with a Samaritan woman or help an adulteress?
And then there was his death, 
and his resurrection, 
and his ascension. 

You have to admit that if you hung out with Jesus you should be accustomed to the unexpected.
At Christmas I am reminded not only of the unexpected things that Jesus did but also that as a follower of Jesus I should be accustomed to doing unexpected stuff.

Loving my enemy.
Putting other’s interests before my own.
Sharing my resources generously.
Feeding the hungry.
Standing up for the oppressed.
Helping those who are sick or weak.

So let’s blow everyone’s mind this holiday season and do some unexpected stuff.

Like admitting that we Christians haven’t done a very good job at loving people who believe differently than us, much less loving our enemies.

Like being less concerned with structuring everything around what we believe to be right and wrong; and being more respectful of the rights of those who believe differently than we do.

Like being willing to give up some of our comforts, resources and rights so there will be less people who are poor, hungry, homeless and without healthcare.

Like being more humble about our knowledge of God.

Like loving and caring for others the way we love and care for ourself.

What unexpected things can you think of to do?
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Be sure and check out these other Advent Reflections:

Listen

This post is a contribution to the November synchroblog “Calling us out of numbness”  I will post links to the other contributions at the end of this post as they become available.

There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty. The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.  – Abraham Joshua Heschel

I can’t get behind the idea of a modern day prophet that can tell you what is going to happen in the future or even the idea of someone who “received a word” from God that was intended for another.  I guess I would say that I believe that kind of prophesying has ceased.  However, I do believe that there are modern day prophets who are inspired and used by God – sometimes unknowingly.

I believe there are men and women today who speak with prophetic voices, who not only speak for God but for those who are weak and oppressed.  These prophetic voices often speak against those who allow power, wealth, position and even self-righteousness to blind them to doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.  These men and women appear to be empowered by a vision of how things should be and could be. They won’t settle for the status quo for the sake of conserving tradition, they won’t be silent in order to avoid offending someone, they won’t turn a blind eye to oppression or injustice, they won’t be quiet. And yet, not everyone who speaks out against injustice can be considered a prophet.  A true prophetic voice is one that is not arrogant and takes no joy in being harsh.  They are more likely to feel sad, or even afraid, rather than angry as they stand firm against those who are obstacles to justice and mercy.  Their role as a prophet has no connection to ambition or power.

When we think about prophetic voices, people who have upset the status quo, who have been willing to accept the dangers that come with stirring up the world, we might think of names like John the Baptist, Jesus, Ghandi, Jeremiah and Martin Luther King; but sometimes prophets are found in unlikely places – sometimes a prophetic voice comes from an unlikely person.

I believe that I have heard a prophetic voice from my friend who has a ministry that focuses on building relationships with homeless people, from my son who is a gay Christian, from a participant in the Occupy Wall Street protest, from an atheist and from a whistle blower … and all of that happened fairly recently.

Let the person who has ears listen!

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Here are the links to the other contribution to this month’s synchroblog: