Elaine listened to sermons as a member of the Pastoral Search Committee. She made me
listen to them as well. One of the messages of one of those sermons was a fresh insight, or reminder, to me. I found out later that this was a sermon that Arthur Stewart preached at Creekwood Christian Church, last November 27th, the first Sunday of Advent. It also fits our transition and I felt called to share it. So when Arthur was here in July, I asked his permission to “borrow” some of his insight for my message today, and he graciously gave me his blessing.
Arthur began his sermon: “We have been waiting, and waiting, and now we must wait some more. It is a time of getting ready, a time of looking forward, a time of action, and a time of HOPE!”
That time for Midway Hills is NOW! New pastoral leadership draws near. What will it be like? Are we ready? How will it go?
Another reality of the approaching unknown is anxiety and fear. So while Arthur reminded his congregation about Adventʼs forward looking HOPE and anticipation, he went on to recognize that it can also be a time of FEAR! He spoke of the angelʼs first words to the shepherds in the field, “Fear not.” What you have long awaited has happened. Fear Not! Why, when the news is GOOD NEWS, do the angels need to allay fear? Because, News brings with it the promise of the unknown!
It was at this point that Arthur really spoke to me. He said that expectations are an imagined reality. It is our attempt to know the unknown, and they are always subject to being dashed. They are simply our attempt to control what is beyond our control; they arise out of our FEAR, even though we may not recognize the presence of that fear.
The scripture text last Sunday (John 6:56-69) reports followers of Jesus hearing hard truths about him and his mission. It was not what they expected! And many gave up on following him. Their expectations were dashed. Their imagined reality was not to be, and they turned away. Jesus is even reported as asking the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
Expectations, even though they are an imagined reality growing out of our fear of the unknown, have great power!
As Elaine and I were expecting our first grandchild everyone shared with us the joy of grandchildren. We were excited, knowing we were surely too young to be grandparents, but really looking forward to this new joy in our lives. Then our granddaughter Brittany was born, a hole in her heart, Downs Syndrome, parents not yet through college, a life time of dependence now in their care. Not what we expected! As Arthur said, expectations are an imagined reality; they can be dashed. Thanks be to God, with time, we were able to move beyond expectations and to live with hope and anticipation for the beautiful and rewarding journey that opened before us. A journey of love and life!
As Arthur said, hope is a getting ready, an action looking forward! It is believing in what can possibly happen! Not what we expect, but what God can do. There is a wide open possibility! Arthur believes that God has called him to serve Midway Hills. We believe that God is in the midst of this congregation. There is no future in living with an imagined reality of expectations. Growth, more income, children, great preaching, renewed justice, peace and compassion ministries. NO! So look forward with HOPE! Then hear the angel say go now and see this thing that has come to pass. It is filled with possibilities.