Prepare to Be Surprised

I am a planner. I am a planner of the worst possible kind. Not only do I make lists; I have lists that I should make on my lists! And this season is one of the worst when it comes to planning. There is so much that needs to be done! Will I get it all done? You know as well as I do that part of the reason that we make lists is so that we won’t be surprised. We won’t be surprised by forgetting to purchase a gift for someone. We won’t be surprised by not having the necessary ingredients for that special holiday dish. (Yes, last year, I left the croissants that I needed for my holiday bread pudding at my house in the freezer. Have you ever tried to make bread pudding without the bread? I just wasn’t fully prepared so I spent Christmas afternoon running from store to store trying to find someone that was open–and found the store AND the croissants. Whew!) Being surprised is never a good thing, right?

Unless it’s Advent! Isn’t that what we’re working up toward–being surpised? The coming of Christ was planned and anticipated–for centuries. The plan was this: God in all of God’s mighty power would burst forth into the world laying all of our enemies to waste, subduing the powers that be as the winner of a mighty struggle, and taking over the rule of the major cities. Those who followed God would finally be on the winning side. And those who opposed God would be left in ruins. God would be in charge, finally!

And then God surprised us all, sneaking in the back door of a stable or through the darkness and dampness of a grotto, coming quietly in the midst of the great count of citizens, politics and earthly powers in their finest hour, and then…in case we had other plans…coming as a helpless, vulnerable baby born to unknown parents who were only in Bethlehem to be counted. And the surprise of all surprises: those who opposed God were given yet another invitation to God’s promises and God’s hope. You see, God surprised us on that first Christmas. Isn’t that enough for you to prepare to be surpised this year. Things do not go according to our well-laid plans. Thanks be to God!

So go forth and prepare to be surprised!

Grace and Peace,

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