Advent and the Unexpected
We often begin our church year singing “Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” but actually, almost everything about the coming of Christ’s birth was unexpected. Mary was in disbelief when the angel Gabriel announced her pregnancy. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was shocked by her own pregnancy. Joseph was certain nonplussed by Mary’s being with child. And giving birth in a stable, well…that takes the cake. Nobody expected that!
What this story shows us is how much it matters how we choose to accept unexpected circumstances. It makes all the difference how we deal with the surprises life throws at us. We have choices: we can grumble about things, and lament the loss of the old way. Or we can accept that change is natural, celebrate all that has been good, and look for new opportunities in the new landscape of our lives.
St. Dunstan’s is facing many changes these days – especially changes on our staff. St. Dunstan’s has had trouble in the past dealing with staff changes, for many reasons. But I hope we can do better in the present. Changes in personnel are natural in any church, and we need to accept what is an inevitable part of life.
Most recent is the announcement that Michael Austin will leave us as music director at year’s-end. While none of us wanted to lose Michael, we can celebrate his wonderful new job opportunity, and be positive about working with a new interim director, Joey Arkfeld. Good music will continue at St. Dunstan’s!
Accepting the unexpected, and looking for good and new opportunities: that is the best approach to change. What if Mary had said to Gabriel (to God!): “No thanks, I don’t want to be involved in this plan…” ? What if Joseph had said, “This is too hard for me to handle…” ? What if all the people who met Jesus said, “No, I’ll just keep on living the old way; I’m used to it…”? God’s plan of salvation would have been thwarted, and we would have no church at all, no cup poured out for the forgiveness of sins, no blessed hope of everlasting life. Advent is a good time to renew our commitment to accepting, and embracing, the unexpected in our lives. JBM