Even on that first Christmas those who anticipated the coming of the Messiah did so with their own set of expectations both personal and community based. For many the Messiah was to bring liberation from the Roman authorities, for others he was to bring healing to the nations, for others it was judgment, still for others it was healing.
Whatever their expectations God was about to enter the world and transcend, remould, and upturn every expectation. On that first Christmas, expectations did little to prepare people for what was about to take place. For Joseph and Mary, Zechariah, Simeon and Anna, the wise men and the shepherds, God exceeded and transformed expectations as the rescue mission of humanity rolled out.
It’s just as true for us today. As we gather together in the lead-up to Christmas, it is good to revisit our expectations and raise them again to the heights of God’s story and glory, rather remain at the shallow levels of our community.
Christmas reminds us that God is not a God who remains within the boundaries of our preconceived ideas. God enters the human race as a baby and invites us to move to the edges of what we know into unknown territory where we are uncomfortable and stretched. Here our hopes for the future are informed by God’s plans, not ours.
At Hobart Baptist Church across the Sundays of Advent we will look again at the events of Christmas, but this year we will do so from the vantage point of four people who were instrumental characters in the very first Christmas. As we enter the world of their expectations we will be invited to move past ours.
How will Jesus renew a sense of wonder in your faith? How will you open your heart to hope again? As we encounter once again the divine mystery of the incarnation, let your heart be open to God’s dream for the future of humanity – a dream that is far and away beyond expectations.
Stephen L Baxter