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It is a tradition that our Minister writes a letter every month which is printed in our magazine, "The Messenger". In the combined edition for December and January we have a letter from Deacon Marilyn Slowe which is printed below.
What are you expecting for Christmas this year?
It is easy to think of Christmas images, because there is no season of the year so full of nostalgia and ripe with expectation. It takes a Scrooge, with a heart of stone, not to become excited about the approach of this joyous occasion.
But I wonder, have you ever been disappointed by Christmas? Did you expect something for Christmas that didn't materialise? Maybe you were hoping for a Christmas bonus that wasn't in your bank account, or expecting somebody home who didn't arrive, or anticipating something, or a feeling, that never quite happened? Maybe you didn't receive a present you had hinted about for months.
Christmas can sometimes be that way. We build up impossible hopes and dreams that can't be fulfilled. That is one reason why people often feel depressed after Christmas.
We live for days in a state of excitement, expecting something to happen; and when it doesn't, we feel sad and let down.
That's too bad, because the real message of Christmas is about what we do not expect. That's right.
Christmas isn't about what we expect; it's about expecting the unexpected. Think about it.
Zechariah and Elizabeth didn't expect to have a baby in their old age. Mary didn't expect to become the mother of the Son of God. Joseph didn't expect his young bride to be pregnant. Herod didn't expect to be disturbed by word of the baby. The shepherds didn't expect to see angels in their fields. The Magi didn't expect to find the Saviour of the world born in a manger in a little country village like Bethlehem. The whole thing was and is still a surprise. God surprised everyone that first Christmas. And when you think about Jesus' teachings, you realise that surprise is who God is. God is full of surprises.
The meek shall inherit the earth. That's really a surprise in itself. When you think of the vocal people and the "power brokers" of our time, you wonder about the meek.
Who wants to be the leader must be prepared to serve and the first shall be the last and the last shall be first.
So, you see it isn't a matter of what we're expecting for Christmas. It's what we are not expecting we ought to be looking for. How is God going to surprise you this Christmas? God is a God of surprises.
We ought to know that God has some surprises in store for us this Christmas. God may not come to us in the old familiar ways. God may speak to us in some new way or event, in a place we least expect.
Remember, the Word becomes flesh and lives amongst us. The fulfilment of the Gospel. As Christians we are always in between times, waiting and hoping, not knowing when God is going to surprise us.
Let us not lose sight of what Christmas is all about. The Word, made flesh, and living amongst us.
May the Christ child bring us all peace and fulfilment.
Compliments of the season.