What Do You Expect?

Good morning! It is Monday, December 8, 2014. 17 days until Christmas!

Today is Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day. This is, apparently, a real thing, started about seven years ago. “For maximum effect, this role play should involve friends and a full costume, should take place in public places and should involve conversations complete strangers.” This sounds like great fun! I wonder if it requires one of these.
Tardis-JPEG

We had a very nice day, yesterday. Our brunch went okay, but just okay, I think. We were not terribly impressed with The Egg and I. We liked it, but didn’t love it. It was definitely no better than our standard diner/breakfast places, and a bit more expensive, I think, so we probably won’t be back. The service was adequate, but not great, and I did NOT like their coffee. It tasted like it was old. Agent Cooper would not have liked it, either.

We went to Penney’s at the mall (first time I’ve been to the mall in a while), and got me a shirt and sweater to go with my black slacks for this Saturday’s party. Christi’s work (the US Bowling Congress) is having their Christmas party Saturday night, at some hotel in Arlington, full catered dinner, DJ, dancing, door prices, and so on. Sounds like great fun. Unfortunately, we will miss church to go to it. That’s a downside to having church on Saturday. But we feel that it is important for Christi to be at this event, and we don’t miss church very often.

After we finished up at Penney’s, we had to go to the Great American Cookie Company. You can’t go to the mall without getting cookies, you know. We spent the rest of the evening watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on Netflix. We are now finished with season 2, and a couple episodes into season 3. This is one of those shows that you laugh at, but know you shouldn’t be laughing at. They have a unique way of poking fun at people. It reminds me, somewhat, of Arrested Development.

Back to work today, this week, I’ll be working all five days. next week, I have Wednesday-Friday off. The following week will be Christmas, with two paid holidays, then the week after that will be New Year’s Day, with one paid holiday. I love this time of year!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Second Week of Advent

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:12
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?
Psalm 18:31
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:2-9
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare
the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Matthew 18:1-6

Just like a bunch of humans to be concerned about “who is the greatest!” Jesus attempts (and this won’t be the only time) to teach them that the greatest must appear to be the least. If we desire to enter the Kingdom of heaven, we must “become like children,” and humble ourselves like a child. We also must be very cautious how we receive and treat other disciples of Jesus. There is a stern warning for anyone who would cause a disciple of Jesus to sin.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Incarnation of Freedom.”

Brennan Manning’s person response to Jesus’s question, “But who do you say that I am?” has been forged by what he calls “tumultuous events” in his person life. “You are the incarnation of the Father’s freedom, the unfettered creative response to his love.”

The Father and the Son chose for his birth to be “in utter obscurity,” showing complete disregard for “conventional expectations.” Jesus, in his birth, celebrated “the freedom to be unorthodox.” He was even a stumbling block to many contemporaries by purposefully challenging their presuppositions. “A king in rags was an insult to the finely honed intellect of the Pharisee and the rational mind of the scribe.”

There is a principle at work in the contemporaries of Jesus that can still be found in religious people today: “Messiah, you get our allegiance when you fulfill our expectations.” Does this attitude fit you, today?

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has made known to us.”

Luke 2:15

Father, what are my expectations? I confess that you have, over the past years, completely confounded my expectations of you. But this is a good thing. I pray that you will continue to do so, until I pretty much have none left. Teach me to never expect anything from you, that might be based on presuppositions that have developed over the years. Your grace and mercy have astounded me. The plans that I thought were in place for my life have been interrupted and confounded at almost every turn. Part of this, I believe, could be because of my own obstinate nature. But you continue to use me; you continue to keep me busy doing a work that you give me. I am so grateful for this. I continue to pray that you teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth, and that you will unite my heart to fear your name. My heart remains divided. I pray that the following verse of that Psalm would someday be true in my life, and that I would truly be able to give thanks to you, “with my whole heart.” So far, I don’t believe I do anything “with my whole heart.”

I pray for this day, that we will have safe travel to and from work. I pray that our work day will go well, today, and that you will help us to have an attitude of sharing your kingdom with those around us, whether verbally or just in action and deed. May my thoughts today reflect your Gospel and your Kingdom. May I be kind to all that I interact with today. I pray for Stephanie, as she approaches her “time of the month,” that her cramps will not be a severe as last month’s were. I also pray for us, as Christmas approaches, that we would know and express the joy that it should bring with it.

What do you expect from God? You can bet that he will work outside that expectation.

Grace and peace, friends.

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