This reflection was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2012.
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear, that together we might learn and be inspired to live your Word in the world. Amen.
We all have expectations of the way Christmas should be. But let’s be honest, all too often our “perfect” dreams of the perfect Christmas end up looking less like our Pinterest pinboard and more like the Griswold family Christmas in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The perfect tree—which we hiked miles in waste deeps snow to cut—ends up being too big to fit where we dreamed it would go. The family bickers. The Christmas lights won’t work. The Christmas bonus—which was being counted on to pay for all the Christmas gifts—doesn’t come. And, the turkey is so dry it tastes like jerky. And, Ellen pleads, “Clark, I think it’d be best if everyone went home…before things get worse.” To which Clark replies, “WORSE? How could things get any worse? Take a look around here, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell.”
We have a lot of expectations surrounding Christmas. We truly do want it to be perfect: a time when we experience “peace on earth and good will to all persons.” But let’s be honest, life ain’t perfect and the expectations we place around Christmas can all too often leave us disappointed. So, I just gotta ask: what are you expecting this Christmas? Are you expecting the unexpected?
The child we celebrate tonight—the child born in a barn to an impoverished, teenage, unwed mother—will turn the world upside-down. He will bring about the unexpected. For in him God has come, in the flesh, to be with us. He’ll offer hope to those expecting nothing more than to be overlooked, forgotten, and lost. He’ll bring joy to those who have known nothing but grief and pain. He’ll offer peace to people who have grown accustomed to conflict and violence. He’ll offer love to those who don’t deserve it and to those who’ve never really known it. And
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light;
those who live in a land of deep darkness—
on them light will shine.
I don’t know what you’re expecting this Christmas, but I hope that you’re open to the unexpected, new thing God is offering the world through this babe born in a manger. He’ll be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” He’ll offer the world hope, joy, peace, and love like the world has never seen, imagined or experienced before. He’ll bring light into the darkness.
 Adapted from Isaiah 9:2, New Revised Standard Version.
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