Morning Psalms 148, 149, 150; Evening Psalms 114, 115
Isa. 5:1-7; 2 Pet. 3:11-18; Luke 7:28-35
Sometimes in the waiting and preparation for a highly anticipated event our expectations can get out of whack. How many times have I waited and waited and prepared for something and built it up in my mind, so much so that when the event actually came I couldn’t enjoy it or enter in to it because it didn’t meet my lofty expectations? For me the reason this happens is that my expectations and my picture of how this anticipated event will occur are wrapped up with…well, me. I am at the center–the hero–the center of the excitement–and it is all about me. But when the day comes and this is not the case I am left empty and with unmet expectations and I fail to appreciate and enter into the very thing I have been anticipating and preparing for!
I think of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, a long awaited visit from a friend or family member, or the completion of a big project. There have been sweet moments of satisfaction and delight when my preparation and longing have been met with true fulfillment, but there are other times when I miss it and I am unable to truly experience and enter into that which I have been waiting and preparing for.
Our 242 group has been reading the Gospel of Mark this all and I continue to be amazed by who misses Jesus and who recognizes him. Israel was longing and crying out for the Messiah to come. They were desperate and longing for God to set things right by bringing them salvation and judgement to their oppressors. However, when the time came and Jesus showed up, the majority of Israel didn’t recognize or receive him. They had built up the Messiah in their minds–their expectations ran rampant for hundreds of years but their brokenness and pride tainted their expectations and preparation and their ability to recognize and receive that which they were longing and preparing for. A baby? A man from Nazareth? A guy who does not play by the rules? Look who he has chosen as his disciples! Look at who he eats with and speaks to!
This Advent as I read Mark I am struck by the centrality of humility, confession and repentance when it comes to my own expectations and my preparation to receive the Lord afresh in my life. Otherwise I run the risk of missing him – of missing where and how God desires to enter into my life and the world because I am so caught up in myself and how I think he should show up and how he should do things according to my own expectations.
Jesus came to bring his kingdom not mine. In Advent we join the nation of Israel in longing and waiting, in expectation and in preparation. We remember how Israel waited faithfully for the coming Messiah, and we remember also that we are still waiting for Jesus’ coming in fullness and glory. But as we wait, do we run the risk of missing Jesus? What are our expectations for the coming Messiah? Am I, like the Pharisees, so focused on what my Messiah should look like that I run the risk of missing Jesus altogether this Advent?