Expecting the Unexpected

December 6, 2004
by Cassandra Wessel

Luke 2:5 – He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (NRSV)

Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (NRSV)

Expectations can sometimes blind us to the reality which is right in front of us. When I was in the ninth grade, my geography teacher called the roll at the beginning of our very first class. He asked us to respond by saying, "Present." When he called out my name, I stated clearly, "Present." There was a very long pause while he looked through the room for me. He then called my name again, "Cassandra!" this time with more gusto. Once again, as instructed, I answered, "Present." Shaking his head, he asked, "Cassandra, this time when you answer, would you please raise your hand." Again, my teacher called, "Cassandra!" Raising my hand, I again responded as instructed, "Present." Still his eyes searched the room. By this time my classmates were rolling their eyes and giggling. I was fast becoming embarrassed. Once more, my teacher, this time, clearing his throat and demanding quiet, said, "Miss Jackson, would you please stand by the side of your desk." This I promptly did. All five foot two inches of me stood next to my desk, to which my teacher blurted out, "You're Cassandra Jackson!… but… you're not… black!"

Talk about being politically incorrect and totally insensitive! Obviously my teacher's expectations had blinded him to the reality in front of him. Often our own expectations can do the same to us. Our own ideas can warp our vision. We can fail to see what is right in front of our noses when we are always looking through the lens of our preconceived notions about what ought to be. Then, instead of being grateful for what we have, we become disgruntled because what we have isn't matching up with what we expected.

There's a hymn which we sing every Advent season in our church: "Come, Thou long-expected Jesus". Verse two goes like this:

    Born Thy people to deliver,
    Born a child and yet a King,
    Born to reign in us for ever,
    Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
    By Thine own eternal Spirit
    Rule in all our hearts alone;
    By Thine all-sufficient merit
    Raise to us Thy glorious throne.

In this Christmas season, let's expect the unexpected blessing as we gratefully go about our business, thankful for the love of family, for what we have, and for Christ Who came to set people free. Let's try to find the Christ in Christmas in others around us — regardless of their ethnic background or their status in life. Then, just maybe, we will be one more step closer to the kingdom of God.

Prayer: Gracious God, You came to us so many years ago as the Babe of Bethlehem. In this season of Christmas, may we be more loving, more sensitive to the needs of others, more courteous, and more hopeful as we look to find You in the faces of those around us. Amen.

About the author:

Cassandra Wessel <casswessel@ymail.com>
Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA

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