One year for Christmas I got a tool set as a gift. It was a small blue case with a couple screwdrivers, a ratchet set, a pair of pliers, and a couple other things. It was a typical small tool set made to fix small things around the house. It seems nice, right? I didn't think so because I was 8. This was nowhere on my list to Santa. So, not a super cool gift to me. We've all had a gift like this when we were kids, right? You kind of half smile because that's all you can muster, say thanks, and set it off to the side while you play with the things you actually wanted.
I think sometimes about that feeling with Advent. God's promises that we find in the Old Testament paint pictures of a king, a messiah, a savior. They create so much hope, and then what we get is a baby. And not just a baby, but a baby born in a dirty manger. No grand entrance to the world, no heavenly light show announcing the birth. Maybe it's just me, but the whole scene is a tremendous subversion of expectations.
Sometimes that happens. Sometimes the things we hope for come in packages we don't expect. Sometimes the things we get aren't what we asked for, but they're what we need. I know it's true because me and that tool set in the blue case fixed our vacuum cleaner last week. Last month, we assembled birthday gifts for my nephew. Jesus' ministry, after all, subverted expectations consistently. More than that, he called us to do the same. As we celebrate Christmas and turn toward a New Year, my prayer is that we can be mindful of our own expectations. While getting things on our list is great, Jesus is inviting us to fix what's broken and build what can be new in the world around us. Even better, he's giving us the tool set to do it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from NaCoMe!
-Ryan "Flash" Moore, Director