When I was young, and learning to drive, I was told to expect the unexpected. It was called “defensive driving” and the basis of the technique was that people will be driving without paying attention; they will make turns without signalling, they will cross the street without watching, they will try to pass you when you’re stopped for a pedestrian. So you drive expecting that something bad will happen that you cannot anticipate, in the hopes that you prevent an accident and stay safe.
I think sometimes we go through life as an exercise in defensive living. We expect the unexpected in our lives, and hope that by anticipating all the bad stuff that could happen to us, we can avoid being hurt. The trouble with anticipating that life is a tragedy waiting to happen, is that we create walls of protection that will keep us safe, that won’t let in anything that might disappoint us, or bring us harm. That way, we can limit the unexpected things that might derail our careful plans.
The problemtrouble with defensive living is that we end up blocking out the unexpected moments of hope, peace, joy and love. If we only expect what is broken and destructive, we miss out on the grace that surrounds us.
That’s why the Christmas Story remains relevant more than 2000 years later. It turns “expect the unexpected” on its head and asks us to be open to God’s unexpected breakthrough into our uneventful lives. It reminds us that we are surrounded by grace and it asks us to uncover “God with us” in the strangest places. What could be more unexpected than the gift of love that was Jesus, born to a young woman without stature, heralded by angels and visited by poor shepherds?
That’s what Advent is about – Anticipation of Grace. We’ll explore this in our themes: Unexpected Hope, Unexpected Peace, Unexpected Joy, Unexpected Love. Our services will be a blend of contemporary and traditional music, videos, spoken word poetry and story as we expect the unexpected in the most marvellous ways.
Christmas Eve falls on the Fourth Sunday in Advent this year so our service schedule is a bit different. We will have 3 services as always, but the first will be 10 a.m. Then there will be a dress-up pageant at 4 p.m., and a Contemporary Candlelight Service at 8 p.m.
This Christmas Season, Expect the Unexpected.
-Rev. Joanne Anquist