Our Expectation

“Our Expectation”
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Sunday, December 11, 2011 – Third Sunday of Advent

A friend of mine sent me the video, “Where’s the Line to See Jesus?”

As I listened to the song and watched the little boy coming in and out of the picture,
I began to think about what our expectations are at Christmas time…
What expectation do we display when we stand in line to visit Santa Claus?
What amazing and wonderful gift do we expect from such a visit?
What do we expect the results to be from all our extravagant spending?
What lessons do we expect our children to learn this Christmas?

I hear so much complaining about how the Christmas shopping seasons starts earlier each year.
Stores respond to their customers…
What do we expect retailers to do when we respond to their advertising?
If we are willing to stand in long lines on Black Friday, what do we expect?
What do we expect from them when we continue to react to their every attempt to take us away from family holidays and separate us from our money?
Albert Einstein once said:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I can’t help but wonder why we expect the Christmas season ever to change when, year after year, we continue to repeat the same behavior.
Why do we complain every year about how commercial Christmas has become when it is us – the consumers – who make all this hoopla profitable for retailers?
What do we expect?

But, the real issue is, with all this focus on decorating, shopping, and parties, how do we expect to have any time left to focus on what Christmas is really about?
How do we expect our families, let alone the rest of the world, to seek to meet the Christmas Child amidst all the glitter and lights?
What do we really expect this Christmas?

Let us pray…
Lord, we come to hear your word today…
Help us to listen carefully and prayerfully.
Guide us to take away the lesson you offer us this morning.
Empower us to share your Good News with those we meet when we leave here.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

As we listen to the stories about John the Baptizer we should notice that he spends a lot of time telling people who he is NOT
He is not the Messiah…
He is not Elijah…
He is not the prophet Israel has been waiting for since Moses died.
All he will say is that he is “the Voice”…
The Gospel of John (different John) begins with those wonderful images of Jesus as:
“The Word” and “The Light”…
John the Baptizer is neither the Word nor the Light…
He is simply the Voice who testifies about the One who is those things…
John’s sole purpose is to be a witness to the One whom he is NOT.
Is this not also our purpose – to bear witness to the One we are not?
I wonder if we need to notice John’s honest humility to help us understand Advent…
Advent is not about our waiting
It is about the one we are waiting forJesus Christ
The focus of the season should be less about what we are doing and more about who is coming.
If we adjust our focus, we will change our expectation.
We normally talk a lot about Advent being a season of preparation…
This is the time when we prepare ourselves to meet the newborn King…
I’ve talked about those things myself…about being ready…
Maybe this ties in too closely with the idea of being ready for Christmas…
the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating…
But it takes our focus off the One who matters within all the excitement…
Maybe we should take a lesson from John and take the focus off of ourselves and all the stuff we need to get done before December 25th.

John stands in the middle of the wilderness…much as we do – We are in the middle of a wilderness where people are crying out for comfort and hope…
From the wilderness John pointed people toward the Word, the Light, the One Hope
As we stand in our wilderness, to what are we pointing?
What message does our Advent expectation convey?
What is our testimony this Christmas season?

If you remember the whole story about John the Baptist, you remember that his preaching met with plenty of resistance…
Ultimately, John was beheaded for his proclamation.
Throughout Christian history there was resistance to the message and many witnesses died for what they proclaimed.
In modern America it is doubtful that we face the same harsh persecution…resistance today is more subtle.
The danger is not that we will be executed but that we will be ignored.
The Word made flesh turns into the word made plastic and displayed on the lawn with all the charm and power of Santa Claus, elves, and red-nosed reindeer.

14th Century theologian Meister Eckhart said:
“God is found in the soul not by adding anything but by subtracting.”

John pointed people toward Jesus by pointing them away from himself…
Maybe we need to take the attention off of ourselves and what we want this Christmas and focus everyone’s attention on Jesus.
Should we be subtracting some of the things in our lives that block the view of the Christ Child?

Our faith is a radical trust in what God is doing…
Even when we are not clear about God’s plan, our faith tells us to wait
When John stood in the wilderness he wasn’t sure of when the Messiah was coming; he had faith that told him it was soon…His voice proclaimed the Light…
Standing in our wilderness, we don’t know when the Lord will return, but our faith assures us it will be at the right time.

Meanwhile, it is our task to point people toward Jesus and the kingdom that is here and now.
How do we expect to perform this task surrounded by all the clutter that seeks to steal our attention from God?
This is the season where we often find ourselves hoping and praying for wonderful things for our families, our communities, and our world…
We like to think that the spirit of Christmas will somehow make people more lovable and more inclined to be helpful…
We hope for a less contentious church…
We hope for a closer relationship with Jesus…
We hope for a God who makes sense…
We hope for an end to hunger and poverty…We hope for world peace…
We wait and we hope…

There’s nothing really wrong with having these hopes, but we need to recognize that they are more about us first and God second
These hopes suggest that we know best what we need, what our church needs, and what our community needs…Hope that is rooted in us often leads us to hold on to expectations
that do not fit within God’s plan for us.

When our expectations are not met we tend to blame God…Sound familiar?
So I go back to where we began this morning…
What do you expect this Christmas?
If you expect to meet the Living God, then you will need to make more room in “The Inn.”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen

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