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Posts Tagged ‘expectant’

Along the west shore of the Susquehanna River, tucked between the Juniata and Sherman’s Creek, almost hidden in the shadow of Cove Mountain, lays the borough of Duncannon. This is where you will find me on the first day of the week. There I gather with others of a similar mind about what has taken place on this day.

Genesis starts off from the beginning telling us how eventful the first day was. We go from “darkness was over the surface of the waters” to “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Needless to say, this move from darkness to light is a significant one.

Perhaps no day has ever been more eventful than one described by the Gospel. John takes us from “they saw that He was already dead” to “the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there” to “on that day, the first day of the week… Jesus came and stood in their midst.” At the risk of understatement, it is quite a move from death to life.

We are reminded again of the unpredictability of the first day when Acts reports that people “from every nation” began to “hear in our own language.” Again, just to highlight the obvious. It is quite a move from isolation and division to community.

So we gather on this day and in this place with expectation. We realize that surprise is always a possibility. We believe the miraculous can occur on any day, we are simply acknowledging a serious precedent for unpredictability on this day, the first day of the week. A day the Trinity has already been extremely active. When I think of what has already taken place on this day all I can say is “wow.”

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My days and years are filled with more than I can imagine and I fight to hold on while paying attention the best I can. Annie Dillard said, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” She is right. She later says “there is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.” Again, I say amen and think that it would do us all well to think of how we string our days together. The ways we spend our time should not be taken lightly. You and I are participants in a grand adventure.

No matter what else you might expect, expect the unexpected. Plan to be surprised. We are surrounded, all of us, by danger and risk and cruelty. But also by beauty and mystery and grace. We are observers, explorers, on alert. Sometimes we are patient. Other times, not so much. We are witnesses at this intersection where danger meets grace. We acknowledge mystery and know there is more than meets the eye. So we light the candles, ring the bells, and sing the songs. Sometimes we sing from habit. Sometimes we sing in doubt. But sometimes we sing in celebration of endless gifts and grace.

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We celebrated His arrival as a Middle Eastern baby.  But then an angel did give advance notice.  We celebrated His return from the dead.  But again, an angel announced this so there would be no doubt.  And again, we celebrated His arrival as Spirit.  But the rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire were pretty good clues that something special was going on.

These appearances remind us that He could show up anywhere at any time.  And there is no telling what He will look like.  After acknowledging such visits, it seems that we would always be on the alert.  What will He look like?  When will He show up?  Where will He appear next?  How will He arrive?  Who can predict these things?

I meet with a group on Sunday mornings to read and discuss the bible.  Not long ago we were reading from Matthew 25.  This is an interesting chapter where actions matter.  What we do matters.  Our practice becomes important.  Preparedness, the way we manage what we have, and the way we respond to others become extremely important.  A bridegroom enters to find some who are prepared and others who are not.  A master returns from his travels to find that two servants have invested wisely while one has not.  A King arrives to find that some have demonstrated mercy, but others have not.

Matthew knows how easy it is to get lulled into normalcy, seduced by the mundane.  We start thinking that nothing is extraordinary.  We can be no farther from the truth.  Matthew knows that it is possible to receive visits from the divine and pass it off as nothing special.  Matthew wants us to be ready.  Be prepared.  Be on the alert.  Be about the business that is expected of us.

Matthew tells us that without announcement, He shows up as a bridegroom, as a traveler returning from a journey, as one who is hungry, one thirsty, one homeless, one shivering in the cold, one sick, one in prison.  Who knows what to expect from this God who shows up like the least of these, whenever He wants, and anywhere.  A God who shows up unexpectedly with no concern for societal norms.  We may already have other plans.  Doesn’t He know that we like advance notice?  Where is the angelic announcement?  The rushing mighty wind?

Are we attentive to what goes on around us? Expectant?  There is light on the horizon, what will this day bring?  Am I prepared?  Have I invested wisely?  Will I share food with the hungry?  Drink with the thirsty?  Share warmth with those who are cold?  Comfort the sick?  Greet the stranger?  Give hope to the prisoner?

We could be host to the divine.  It would be wise to be kind to that uninvited guest at the next dinner party.  Next time you walk into a roomful of people, scan the room, He could be anywhere.  God does not seem concerned about invitation or RSVP.  Your next appointment – better be on your toes.  Be on the alert.  What will He look like?  When will He show up?  Where will He appear next?  How will He arrive?  Will I be about the business that is expected of me?

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