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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Focus: Great Expectations

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"

Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."

 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?  What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.  What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'  Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. - Matthew 11: 2-11

While we wait for Christmas, it’s useful to remember that the symbol of our faith isn’t Santa Claus. It’s not candy canes or mistletoe. It is the cross. Advent reminds us that we live in expectation of eternal happiness. But we must travel the way of the cross to get there. John the Baptist lived in expectation. But he wound up in jail. He answered God’s call to prepare the way of the Lord. And he got locked up for it. You’d think he’d learn his lesson and find some other line of work. But no: from the depths of Herod’s dungeon he keeps expecting; he keeps calling out. And Jesus answers him.

John stands on the divide between the old and the new covenants. He is the last in the line of messianic prophets. He is the first to know that all the prophesies are fulfilled in Jesus: The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. The poor have the good news preached to them. And yet John goes right on rotting in jail until the executioner comes for him. Is that what he expected? Is that fair? Didn’t he, haven’t we, waited long enough? What’s all this endless waiting and expecting about any way?

It is the way of the cross. Individually and collectively as the Body of Christ we live in expectation… in hope, not in fear. Christ has already done the hard part for us. Our salvation is bought and paid for. We have a free ride all the way home. But we must take that ride. We must make the leap of faith. And every day we must take up our cross and follow him. That’s what he expects. That’s what we must embrace.

The Christian way is either easy or it is impossible. It is easy if we do things God’s way.  It is impossible if we do things our way… the what’s-in-it-for-me way… always on the lookout for the big payoff… always in full transaction mode, ready to trade our good deeds for God’s blessings. We forget that God has expectations, too. He doesn’t want or need us to throw him a bone. He wants it all. He doesn’t want scraps from our table. He wants us.

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis spelled out God’s expectations for us: “I have not come to torture your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. Hand over your whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.” That is what John the Baptist did. He gave his will to God. That is why the only truly joyful place in Herod’s whole palace was deep down in the dungeon.

Like John, we find fulfillment when we find what God expects of us. Ask him and ask him again. Seek his will every day. As God’s expectations become clearer, take a really hard, honest look at the way you live. Then get to work putting your expectations in line with his… getting your life right with God.  And what better time to do it than now. This is Advent. This is the season of great expectations.


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