Daily Dose, Nov. 29: Advent

  This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” (John 1:19-27)   “It’s not what I expected.” This can be a positive or a negative statement. It completely depends on the circumstance. There are times when someone has recommended a certain food to me, raving about it and going on and on about how great it is. I can remember trying it and then disappointedly thinking, “It’s not what I expected.” In a bad way. I also remember many years ago seeing something that, at the time, was relatively new (at least to me). We were in Orlando, and someone took us to see a show called Cirque du Soleil. I’ll admit, I wasn’t very excited going into it. But what happened over the next few hours completely blew me away. “It’s not what I expected.” In a very good way. Expectation can be a dangerous thing. We might end up disappointed. Or, maybe our expectations will simply be met. A few times, our expectations can be exceeded. Much of the result, though, depends on what our expectations actually are. As you walk through your life with God as your guide, what are you expecting? As you look to Jesus -- his life, death, and resurrection -- what are you expecting? It’s important to remember that people in Jesus’ day had certain expectations of what the Messiah -- the deliverer -- should be. Many ended up being disappointed by Jesus, mainly because their expectations of him were misguided. Jesus didn’t meet THEIR expectations, and so they ended up disappointed. Jesus has a way of defying our expectations. In the Scripture reading for today, John in many ways cautions and corrects the people and their expectations. “Don’t confuse your expectations for a Messiah with your expectations of me! I’m limited; the Messiah will be unlimited.” This makes me think of people that have turned their backs on God and Christ because someone in a certain church hurt their feelings somewhere along the way. As they turn their backs they’ll think, “It didn’t live up to my expectations.” People will always disappoint. We can expect that. Jesus won’t. We can also expect that. As Christ-followers, we’re always striving to draw our lives closer to the life lived by Christ. We’re striving to make our actions and attitudes parallel his. But we aren’t always successful. I long for a church where every newcomer, where every person exploring faith, would walk away saying “It’s not what I expected.” And they would mean it in a good way. -- Rev. Brad Greene