Sunday Devotion: 15 December 2019, Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday Devotions

I hope to be surprised by God

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Main readings: Isaiah 35.1-10; Song of Mary (APBA p.31 or 425) or Psalm 146; James 5.7-10; Matthew 11.2-11

Supplementary readings: Psalm 126; 2 Corinthians 12.14-20; Isaiah 40.1-11; Psalm 79.1-9; Matthew 11.11-24

“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ (Matthew 11.2-3)

Growing up I remember hearing the aphorism, “God always answers prayer, sometimes ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no’, and sometimes ‘wait’.” I learnt that ‘wait’ was not just about time and timing, but also about space, openness and hope.

As we approach Christmas, the season of Advent is full of hope and expectation, as was John the Baptist in prison and many of his contemporary Jews, who were expecting a messiah to replace the Roman authority with a divinely instituted monarchy. Even the smallest child in the lead up to Christmas can empathise with the question, “Are you the one?” For me Advent has always been about expectation and hope. As a child the hope was centred on the tradition of gift receiving, as an adolescent on gift giving, but of late I have been asking the question, “For what should I hope?”

There is a sense in which all three answers from the aphorism are true. ‘Yes’, Jesus is the answer to God’s promise. ‘No’, this is not the answer you were expecting – a different person at the top of the same authority structure. But, ‘Wait’, God has a better plan – the old will pass away, and new life will emerge.

The story of God and his people is one that is full of surprises, and I hope to be surprised by God many times over. What are you hopeful for today?

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