The Wait Is Over – What Did I Get?

Madonna and Child Giotto

Madonna and Child Giotto -

Today’s post forms part of the December synchroblog Jesus Has Come – Did You Get What You Expected?I will post the full list of submissions with links tomorrow.

In my preAdvent post Jesus Is Coming What Do I Expect, I wrote

Above all I am expecting to be changed by a fresh encounter with Christ during this Advent season…. Opening myself to be changed is never easy.  Herod knew that the Messiah was coming but he did not want to meet him in fact he wanted to kill him. The Pharisees too knew that the messiah was coming but even when the saw the signs in the heavens and heard the rumours of his birth they made no effort to go and meet him.

I then added:

So much in my life still needs to be changed by the challenge of a God of love for whom justice, mercy and compassion are more important than right doctrine and theological correctness. I want to learn to follow that God with every fibre of my being and with every aspect of my life. More than that I want to learn to trust this God in new ways know that he will never leave nor forsake me. Trusting that no matter what the future holds, my life is always in his hands.

For me this Christmas season has been a journey into trust. And part of what I have realized is that it is impossible to learn to trust God unless I am in a position where trust is needed. As long as life is comfortable and I know where my provision is coming from I do not need to rely on God. Learning to trust means placing myself in situations that move me out of my comfort zone and force me to rely on God and not on my own efforts.

The unexpected truth that has burst on me during this season is that trust is based on love. It may seem self explanatory, but I realize that it is one thing to know this in my mind, it is another to have it lodged deep in my heart. If I do not believe that God loves me with a deep and unfailing love then I will never fully trust him. My abandoned child self, alone and isolated in a hospital incubator is still present deep within my being and there is a part of me that always believes God will once more abandon me to that place of painful isolation.

Surprisingly, Christmas is a time when many of us feel alone and abandoned. The festivity around us, the coming together of families, the exchange of presents can be exciting but also makes us aware of those from whom we are separated – loved ones who have died, family on the other side of the world, friends we no longer get on with. A growing number of churches hold Blue Christmas services to reach out to us in the midst of these feelings. Others use Advent as a time to reach out in new ways to the more obviously abandoned in our world – the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

All of us have an abandoned child buried deep within, but the message of Christmas I have most relished this year is that every abandoned place within us is fertile ground for the Christ child to be planted, to grow and to blossom. In learning to trust I have learned to allow the unfailing love of God to put down deeper roots into those abandoned places of my heart. Hopefully I have also allowed the Christ child within me to grow so that he can blossom in new ways in the year to come.

So in answer to the question Jesus has come did I get what I expected I would say yes and more than I expected. I came looking to learn about trust and found love and intimacy as well and I pray that as Tom and I go on retreat in a couple of days, this lesson will continue to blossom in my heart.

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The other posts in the series:

Glenn Hager – Underwear For Christmas

Jeremy Myers – The Unexpected Gift From Jesus

Tammy Carter  – Unstuck

Jeff Goins – The Day After Christmas: A Lament

Wendy McCaig – Unwanted Gifts: You Can Run But You Can Not Hide

Christine Sine – The Wait Is Over – What Did I Get?

Maria Kettleson Anderson – Following The Baby We Just Celebrated 

Leah – Still Waiting For Redemption

Jesus Is Coming – What Do We Expect? The Entire Series.

This year’s Advent series at Godspace has been the richest and most prolific ever. And it isn’t over yet. Tomorrow I will post the reflections for this week’s synchroblog Jesus Came Did You Get What You Expected?

However I want to take this opportunity to thank all who submitted posts as well as those who have followed faithfully what we have written. Now that Christmas is over some of you may have more time for reflection and like to look back over the entire series. may you enjoy a God blessed Christmas season and you read and savour what God is saying.

Jesus Is Returning…Today by Jeremy Myers

The Night Before by Joel Boehner

The True Light Is Coming Into the World – by David Perry

The Wait is Over – Advent Reflection by Dave Timmer

Have We Lost Jesus at Christmas? by James Prescott.

Virgin Mary &The Bible’s Answer to Human Trafficking by Rev. Rajkumar Boaz Johnson

Come Spirit Of Advent – A Prayer of Hope and Expectation by Sally Coleman

Remember Our Story by Ellen Haroutunian

May Salvation and Righteousness Sprout Up Together

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Parousia: Perchance to Dream #1 by Melanie Clark Pullen

Parousia: Perchance to Dream #2 by Melanie Clark Pullen

Getting Ready for the Baby by John Leech

Expecting the Unexpected by Liz Dyer

Jesus Is Coming What Do I Want To Be Open To? by Kathy Escobar

Expecting Something That Matters by Sarah Styles Bessey

Simplify and Celebrate – What Makes for a Better Christmas or a Better World?

You Can Smuggle God into the World This Christmas – Edith Yoder

A Prayer for the Third Sunday of Advent 2011

Jesus is Coming – I Expect More Time by Ed Cyzewski

The Best of Gifts For Christmas by Steve Wickham

Jesus Is Coming – Did You Hear the News by Paula Mitchell

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent 2011

Advent As A Mirror of Possibility and Expectation – Dave Perry

What Are We Waiting For – Reflections on the Second Sunday of Advent by Dave Hens

Expect the Unexpected by Tracy Dickerson

More Resources for Advent 2011

Jesus Is Coming Will I Get What I Desire? by Dave Wainscott

First Monday of Advent – Advent Re-imagining Everything by Ron Cole

The God Who Would Be Friend – Theresa Froehlich

Advent in Two Minutes – An Introduction to the Season

Advent is Near – There’s A New World Coming

Jesus Is Coming – What Do We Expect?

In spite of the fact that Advent was four full weeks this year, I still ran out of time to post all the Advent reflections that were submitted either to me or to the Advent synchroblog which launched this series. Here are some other reflections you may like to dig into.

 

Liz VerHage at Living Theology

Glenn Hager – Antithetical Advent

Tammy Carter at Blessing The Beloved – His Gift … the way of escape!

Carol Kuniholm at Words Half Heard – What I’m Waiting For

Mihee Kim-Kort – Advent Expectations: Keep Awake

Wendy McCaig – We’re Expecting A Baby

John Reid at Blog One Another – Undiscovered Advent: The Second Coming of Christ

 

A Christmas Prayer for 2011

Nativity Kenyan

Nativity Kenyan

Alleluia, the waiting is over, Jesus has come,

The promised One of Christmas in now present in our midst.

May we let the chaos settle and turn from our distractions,

May we notice the places that shimmer with his presence. 

 

Alleluia, love comes down at Christmas,

Beloved son of God, Saviour of the world we welcome your coming.

A child born as one of us to make all things new, 

A Saviour birthed to bring righteousness and justice for all.

 

Watch for the signs and listen for the messengers,

Stand on tiptoe, shout for joy and trumpet the good news,

God’s miracle has come down from heaven, 

Alleluia the Christ child has come. 

 

May this child of Christmas come to us and give us hope,

May he grow in us and show us life, may he speak to us and teach us love,

Alleluia something new is emerging something new is being birthed, 

Jesus has come and we open our hearts to be his home.

 

 

Thinking About Christmas – A Christmas Liturgy by Jenny Flannagan

nativity - Andi Harisman Indonesia

nativity - Andi Harisman Indonesia

It is still Advent but most of us are well into thoughts of Christmas so this week I plan to post on Advent in the mornings and Christmas in the afternoon.  This afternoon’s post is a beautiful liturgy by Jenny Flannagan.  She shared it on her blog as That Christmas Storythis morning (with a downloadable version) before heading off to stay with her husband’s family in Ireland.

The last time they did that she came back wondering where on earth Jesus had been in any of the celebrations…which inspired her to write this liturgy for them to share in each year, with whoever they were with at Christmas.

What I love is the way that she breaks it down into responsive readings for different times of the Christmas celebration starting with Christmas Eve and ending the evening of Christmas Day.

Christmas Liturgy

i) Last thing on Christmas Eve: The anticipation.  By candlelight.

Reader 1: We read the angel’s words to Mary:

“Greetings, you who are highly favoured.  The Lord is with you.

Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Reader 2

On the eve of this glorious celebration, we pause together.  

We steady our busy minds.

We still and quiet our souls within us.

We wait.

(pause)

Reader 3:

We are silenced by the angel’s words, and can only listen with holy awe and strange wonder. 

We wait with her for the fulfilment of your extraordinary promises.

We carry inside us the promise of your presence.

We wait through the dark night for the promise of dawn.

(pause)

Reader 4:

This Christmas eve, we are incredulous again that the God of the universe should make himself so small and so vulnerable, and be born into our world.

We wait with expectation for the new ways in which you will break into the darkness, into the humdrum of our lives.

We are humbled again by your desire to be born in us.

May you be born is us again this Christmas.  

(pause)

All: We wait for your light to dawn again in our world.

ii) First thing on Christmas morning: Celebration

Reader 1: 

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Reader 2: We join with the angels, whose joy could no longer be contained in heaven, and say:

All: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men and women on whom his favor rests

Reader 3: May our joy overflow like theirs today, and may it send us out to others.

Reader 4: We remember that the angels were sent to the unlikely – to a teenage girl, to a carpenter, to a group of shepherds.  Give us eyes to see the unlikely around us today, and may our joy overflow out to include them.

Reader 1: We remember today the people who are easily forgotten.  Those in our community who are alone.  Those who have no means of celebrating.  Those suffering physically, emotionally or mentally.  Those who are grieving. Those who are cold and hungry.  May they hear good news today.

Reader 2: May we know again today that Jesus’ birth is good news that changes everything.

All: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men and women on whom his favor rests

iii) said at the table before lunch: Journey’s end and beginning

Reader 1: Today is a day that symbolises old journeys ending and new journeys beginning.  For Mary it was end of her pregnancy, and for both her and Joseph, the end of the long and slow journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  For the Wise Men it was an even longer journey, across many lands, following a star.  For the shepherds it was perhaps just a journey across the fields and the town.  The baby they found marked the end of their journeys, but it also marked the start of a new and a wonderful journey.

Reader 2: As we stop to share this meal together, we think of those who are journeying today – fleeing war and famine and other injustices.  We think of those who have no time today to stop and to celebrate.

(pause)

Reader 1: We thank you Father for our different journeys which have brought us here today, and the promise that the baby born today will change everything.  Thank you Father that you are Immanuel, God with us, and we do not journey from here alone.

Amen

iv) tea time: the recognition

Reader 1: In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

God, you can now release your servant;

release me in peace as you promised.

With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;

it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:

A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,

and of glory for your people Israel.

Reader 2: God give us the faith and the patience of Simeon, who waited his whole life in prayerful expectancy that you would keep your word.

(pause)

Reader 3: God, give us the imagination of Simeon, who could recognise in a newborn baby the hope of the whole world.

(pause)

Reader 4: God, give us the humility of Simeon who lived to seek and to find Jesus

(pause)

Reader 1: May we, too, live to see you today Jesus, and may we recognise you even in the most unexpected places.

v) last thing: the darkness; by candle light

Reader 1: 

A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.

Reader 2: At the close of this Christmas Day we remember the grief that accompanied that first Christmas.  How the birth of Jesus’ caused such fear in Herod’s heart that he commanded the slaughter of all baby boys under the age of two.  These words of Jeremiah’s prophecy were fulfilled as mothers across the region wept for their loss.

Reader 3: We remember that this Christmas will have only brought more grief and suffering to many around the world.  We know that the darkness remains.

Reader 4: We weep with those who weep tonight.  We mourn the injustices of our world.  We mourn the violence, the oppression, the abuse.  We grieve the inequality that means one nation will starve and another will throw excess away.  We grieve selfishness and greed. We grieve premature death.

Reader 1: In faith we cling to the words of John, who described that first Christmas:

“What came into existence was Life,

and the Life was Light to live by.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;

the darkness couldn’t put it out.”

ALL: “The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;

the darkness couldn’t put it out.”