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Managing Un-Expectations

Jesus, close to the end of his earthly life, prophesies another beginning. Jesus, the Messiah, tells the people to watch out for the Messiah. Jesus goes meta. An excellent introduction to the Advent theme of past and future colliding in the present and the difficulty of living in expectation while being not quite sure what to expect.





[Music] everybody Merry Christmas I know it's crazy it's already here and I want to welcome those who are watching online great to have you with us today as well and you know I want to I wanted to mention just sit thanks from my wife and I and our family after the passing of my dad recently we just had an amazing service last Tuesday and I'm the this the the love and the well-wishes and just the patience with just a kind of a change in schedule for me I just want to say thank you we're doing well my mom's doing good and in light of everything it's not easy but just thank you for your prayers and continued prayers that's great well here we are Christmas and we're launching a Christmas series today that will go all the way through Christmas even actually we're calling it's the Advent season so we're gonna go all the way through into the first weekend of the new year with this series and feel it's important because the holiday season has mixed reviews you know I'm saying it's like kids are super excited about it and then Mama's moms and dads are like trying to be excited for them but as I see our a man and then if you go through losses we have you know you have all of these things right and so it's a mix kind of a mixed bag of emotions and experiences and like and how do we how do we get back to a sense of childlike anticipation that's what I want to talk about today and through this series I want us to kind of lean into this is how do we how do we trade our disappointments our our disillusionment our sadness even for a spirit of anticipation and joy and hope this Christmas so he asked you guys this I'm at wood do you guys when you were kids go back I want you to kind of go back and think about your childhood around Christmastime and I know it's probably different for everyone but did you have a sense of like Santa could come at any moment I mean I got to get to bed right did you ever did you just like I can't wait for Santa Claus to come that was my experience I was telling that this experience to my teaching team this last week and they were like a bow is like Steve I'm him I'm I grew up a Mennonite Santa wasn't part of our lives oh I'm so sorry Bo so sorry for you you know and then another person said yeah actually the whole idea of Santa the big red big big guy in a red suit Blake breaking into our house kind of scared me and so she spent most of her Christmas Eves in her room locked away I mean it was like what's wrong with these people what's wrong with these parents so as you can tell my parents even though they were pastors didn't have this religious any kind of a religious thing against Santa Claus so I grew up I grew up just really believing really believing like like anticipating his arrival to the point that I would force myself just to stay awake just to hear that on the rooftop you know and just run down so maybe I could catch him you know in the act and my parents caught on and they were like Steve he will not come if you are not asleep that's a rule that's a rule I know I'll go to sleep then you know so I did and and I started I was thinking about that like when did we start to go to bed early when did you stop wake staying up for Santa Claus I bet it had something to do with what you believed or chose not to believe and I would say the same is true about as we approach this Christmas season about what you believe about Jesus and his interaction in our day to day and so so we're gonna turn to that turn to Matthew chapter 24 if you have a Bible I want to unpack a passage of scripture that is super interesting for a Christmas launch series launch because it's all about the second coming of Jesus it's Matthew 24 it's towards the end of his ministry here on earth and he's talking to his friends about the end times he's talking about what's going to happen just prior to Jesus coming back again and and so they're really interested in that and they're asking all kinds of questions about what's gonna be like and how do we know when we're in those times and Jesus's answer trying to answer their questions and and he says something that's super interesting is I think about Christmas as I think about how we approach this season and this series and so I'm gonna read from Matthew 24 verse 36 Jesus these are the words of Jesus but concerning that day an hour the hour the day an hour that Jesus returns no one knows not even the angels of heaven nor the son not even me jesus says but the father only for as were the days of Noah so will be the coming of the Son of man for as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking marrying and giving in marriage until the day when Noah entered the Ark and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away so will be the coming of the son of men he's got to tell you when I was a kid this was terrifying this whole passage like wow Jesus Jesus tone it down a little bit Noah really we're gonna talk about that then two men will be in the field one will be taken on one left two women will be grinding at the mill one will be taken on one left therefore stay awake for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming but know this that if the master of the house had known and what part of the night the thief was coming he would have stayed awake and would not have left his house be broken into therefore you also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect let me pray Jesus as we open up your word would you help us to discern what you're saying what you're wanting to speak to us how you want our minds and our hearts to be transformed help us to connect with your teaching from so long ago and let it still be transformative in our lives and help it to even change the way we approach our Christmas this year Jesus we we want to hear from you Holy Spirit Jesus name Amen so I I would read this passage when I was younger and it really was terrifying I mean I always start I was I and for many Christians even today they're terrified of the idea of Jesus coming again because of passage like a thief in the night who wants that and so we approach the coming of Jesus was a little bit of Terror and I kind of want to unpack this passage for us both said not you know secondarily to like help to be excited about the second coming of Jesus but also to show you that as we approach this Christmas season there is a way to wait for the coming of Jesus there's a way to see the coming of Jesus even before the second coming of Jesus that will help us in our preparations for this Christmas and and and as we unpack this I want you just like like I said before open up your heart like the wonder of Christmas again the wonder of Jesus coming back again alright so let's dive into this this passage I'm gonna unpack it a little bit more I reread it but I'm gonna read it again because there's a lot in it but concerning that day an hour no one knows so we already talked about this that nobody knows when Jesus is coming not even the angels except for the father for as were the days of Noah so this really does bother me that Jesus out of all the stories from the Old Testament that he could use to describe his coming he decides to use the story of Noah which doesn't end well for a lot of people but we focus in on how it ends but we don't focus on what was happening prior to the end and that's the focus of Jesus using this story it has nothing to do with what happened in the end it happened it has to do with what was going on in the psyche of the people prior to the end and that's where we live we live in the in-between time between the the first coming of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus and I got to be honest with you it's really hard to live in the in-between time it's hard to always have faith in Jesus it's hard to trust that he's got us in his hands it's hard to think that Jesus is concerned about my every day it's hard it's it's this I mean jesus promised that he would come back in this passage he even describes the coming back of Jesus and and yet and yet it's been 2,000 plus years have you ever thought maybe he's not know just the pastor up and fret everybody you talking right what happens though what happens is that when we when we when we start to wonder those of things what can't happen is that we start to lose hope we start to lose faith and what so what Jesus is trying to do is he's trying to say there's some things that you have to be aware of in the in-between time and and it was the days of Noah it will be the coming of the Son of Man for us in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking marrying and giving in marriage there's nothing wrong with marriages and nothing was wrong with eating and drinking eat and drink as much as you want this Christmas season somebody say Amen I mean yeah this is that it's not about the eating and drinking it's about the distractions that we fill our lives with that have the potential of making us unaware of the coming of Jesus that's what Jesus is trying to get to he goes on until the day when Noah entered the Ark and they were and there's that word this is the key of what Jesus is trying to say say unaware unaware until the flood came and then they swept them all the way and so will be the coming of the Son of man then he tells us and this used to freak me out because I thought I wonder if I'm going to be left in the field it hasn't anything to do with that the two men will be in the field one will be taken on one left one is unaware and one is aware that's what Jesus is trying to tell us one is awake to the reality that Jesus is coming back soon and one is like I'm just I mean I'm not sure so I'm just gonna live it up I'm just gonna fill my life with all kinds of other things think about the birth of Jesus in light of this so Jesus the Messiah in the Jewish context was promised for hundreds and thousands of years that there would be a savior that would come and deliver the people of Israel and so for hundreds and even thousands of years they waited and waited and waited and then not only did they wait but then there was 400 years after the last prophet was killed that there was complete silence no prophets wrote anything down nothing was said god it wasn't speaking can you imagine being those people in that setting and like I thought I thought the Messiah was coming now now I'm not sure and how easy would it be for them to lose hope or faith or just stop anticipating Santa's come I mean Jesus has come into town right they tend to think about the second coming of Jesus right I mean it's like we're in this in-between time now is like is he going to is he not I mean see so what do we do in that in-between time when we're not sure is that we fill our lives with all kinds of things that are both distracting and disappointing because we've lost hope in the coming of Jesus and so for this Christmas season and for this series what I want us to do is I want to still like maybe Jesus not only has come and welcomed but is coming right now in our everyday maybe there's a way for us to see him and be aware of his presence and be awake to the reality of his of his coming right now and that's what actually what Jesus does in Matthew 24 he says that the people were unaware and then he gives us two other phrases that helps us to kind of like dust off a sense of childlike anticipation for the coming of Jesus this Christmas season and here's what he says here's the first phrase stay awake say stay awake don't go to sleep stay up all night you might just see a fat guy in a red suit if you just if you keep your eyes open you might see the coming of Jesus today and I'm not talking about the second coming of Jesus I'm talking about the everyday coming of Jesus intersecting into our into our lives into our conversations into our finances into every aspect of our relationships to stay awake because if you don't stay awake Jesus is going to tell us that then you might actually miss it you might actually miss the coming of Jesus a way for you don't know what day your Lord is coming but know this if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming he would have stayed awake and he would not have let his house be broken into there's this sense thing like Jesus is saying that that that if your eyes are open you will see the coming of Jesus in your everyday today you if you if you see gee I mean think about this if that if you're attentive you might see Jesus in a conversation via social media you might you might receive a gift of a financial some financial gift that was completely unexpected you you might have a there might be a random act of kindness that's done to you from a complete stranger and if you don't have I if you're not thinking jeez if you think Jesus is distant and he's uninvolved and he's not coming back you will not see Jesus in these simple things that happen every day a prayer that's prayed over you at the prayer wall right after this service can be one of those moments where the the birth of Jesus in a sense intersects your life a conversation that brings hope to your soul I was thinking about this last week at my dad's celebration of life service and and and several people from our congregation came that didn't know my dad I was like and I remember giving them hugs and and I'm thinking you don't have to be here you're right I mean they didn't know my dad so it's a celebration for his life not mine and I remember hugging them and saying these words you didn't have to thank you I was very I mean it wasn't like this ungrateful thing it was like this realization that you don't have to be here yet you chose to be here and there was something of Jesus in it it wasn't just the kindness of a stranger somebody in our church or it was the kindness of Jesus shown through there was a guy from Portland that did a mastered my master's program with my dad he lives in Portland pastors a large church there and his dear friend of mine but he didn't have to drive all the way from Portland on a Tuesday in the middle of the day to come to a service celebrating my daddy didn't have to but he did right there's something see I mean what if my if my eyes are closed if I'm asleep to that route then I won't see Jesus in those things I'll just think oh that's it he's just a nice guy he's not just a nice guy there's something of the power of Christ flowing through him as he drove all this way there's something powerful here that I think we we have to connect with because there's gifts that will come to you in the middle of the night of your night and do you have eyes to see that they're actually gifts given by God see we have to wake up I love this Advent journal we we start this tomorrow and at the beginning of it we as with all of our journals that we produce for growth and all of that there's some gratitude prompts and we've done this a few times where there's some days that we just need help remembering how to see the coming of Jesus right how to see him interacting I love some of these ideas think about the like jump starts right think about three things that are beautiful in the winter go ahead let's popcorn this what are three things beautiful about winter snow did you guys see the snow falling during worship it was completely distracting on the back screen did you guys see it it was beautiful can we team come on let's put it up right now cuz I'm a better speaker with snow falling in the background can they do that I mean I don't know they may fall asleep this is their third time listen to this message I just oh there it is see and look at the look at you look at the screen there's like I mean I'm in the snow right now and this is this is way better message was snow falling in the background I mean there's something beautiful about it right and have you ever thought that maybe Jesus might actually show up as the snow the beautiful white snow is falling on your I mean have you thought about maybe maybe he will maybe he'll come to you in that moment and speak something of love and life to you what else is beautiful about the winter the peace and the stillness absolutely the blue sky when it does come out which is quite often around here anybody like hot cocoa by a fireplace even those fake ones that most of us have in our houses I've been drinking the hot cocoa every night for the last couple of weeks I'm just telling you it's like so medicinal you know and it's just it's my Jesus show up as you're sitting by a fireplace the nice cup of hot chocolate or coffee and just sitting there might he not speak to you in that moment of his love for you and his grace towards you and his purpose is for your life what are three beautiful songs of Christmas what are some of the songs you love no well first Noel yeah whatever you guys are saying it's all melody melding together as soon as it gets up here yeah well holy night I heard somebody say it's just what silent night I mean these beautiful songs it's just rich with the character of God built into them and to play them you know I are sitting up in my room the other day and we've had a lot of family at my house over the last two weeks they're all gone now Thing Thing thank you Jesus anyway it's a lot of family and mod drama anybody else have drama in the family okay good good yeah you all know how that works and I just was I said I was up in my room cuz that's my it's my quiet space you know nobody comes busting into your bedroom unless they're really close family and then they're always welcome but I I just I really I said I was sitting up there just trying to get away from the chaos and the noise and staring out my window and even silence can be a voice from the Lord sometimes and then not only silence but I'm just sitting in my living room just yesterday and they're my boys and daughter-in-law and a nephew are sitting at the table playing a board game and laughing really loud and having so much joy and Isis just God's in these moments God's in these moments of beauty and do you have eyes to see are you awake to the reality that he is moving and active are you or are you just waiting for a second coming and and and or you actually going now I'm waiting for it so I can't wait for Jesus to come back but I know I'm gonna see Jesus today I know in the faces of the people that I see on the street or in the faces of the children or in the faces of people I work with or I go to school with I might actually see Jesus in those places in those people today I might actually have an encounter with God through my encounter with those around me to have eyes to see to be awake to not go to sleep on Christmas Eve just maybe you might see Jesus and then Jesus goes on to give us the second thing that will help to dust off a sense a childlike anticipation this Christmas season and it's found here therefore you also must be ready say be ready it sounds like it's kind of be awake a same word it seems like it's the same word it's not the same word it actually means in the original language just were be ready as kind of like Jesus said you must be fit like he uses a word that describes being ready to do some physical exercise you know physical work so like you've you've prepared yourself you've you've got up early and worked out and and I know none of you are doing that now I mean you did that in January but you're not doing that now and you're thinking about doing it but you won't do that until next month and that's all good because that's where I'm at I mean if I get out of bed in the morning I feel good about myself now physically and so so Jesus isn't saying you have to be physically fit but what he is saying is that you have to be ready means that I have to be ready in case that thief does come in I've got to be prepared for that moment that I could take him down with my own bare hands that's what he's talking about it's like I've got to be physically prepared for that that's the idea of him but it's not talking but physically he's talking spiritually he's saying are you ready are you not only awake but are you actively pursuing the move of God and so are you ready for the Son of Man is coming our you do not expect and then he uses an example that kind of helps us understand how to be ready he says who then is the faithful and wise servant when Jesus is talking about being ready he's saying that the way to kind of childlike anticipation again this Christmas season is by serving others he says his master said over his household to give them their food at the proper time blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes Jesus is saying while you wait in the end between time be awake have eyes to see that God working you know in in all kinds of different everyday ways but not only that be ready be actively serving God while you wait and then and then he says this he says truly I say to you he will set him over all his possessions but they think guys it gives like a little antithesis to this but if that wicked servant says to himself my master is delayed I'm tired of waiting we've been waiting a really long time and he's still not back I'm just gonna do what I want I'm gonna feel Christmas up with what I want and every in that makes sense and it's and he begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards so he's just kind of like I'm just gonna take my power I'm gonna manipulate it I'm gonna take advantage of people I'm gonna just waste my life away it doesn't really matter right then the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and then I just have to add this because Jesus did and we'll cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites and now in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth okay I don't want that I don't want that part I don't want to be that guy right I don't think Jesus is trying to scare us listen I mean okay how many of you get scared when the police lights go on behind you okay see we think of God that way I just got pulled over you guys I was on my motorcycle for that this is like confessional time I was on my motorcycle for the first time in months just this like a two weeks ago and and and my dad had just passed away this is I'm just telling I'm just reciting when I told the officer and he and and so I'm going a little fast on the Parkway cars were getting over the side I'm thinking Jesus is in the house and I'm just like going you know I was like everybody's moving to this side I'm like thank you Lord and that's not Jesus and pulls me off and gives me a ticket and I and and I deserved the ticket totally deserved it and I was thinking we think of Jesus like that like like he's that but but what Jesus is saying don't be don't be that don't be this guy that is like I'm just done I'm not I'm just gonna fill my life up with all kinds of other things I'm not gonna be fully awake to the reality of Jesus happening in my everyday and I'm certainly not gonna serve other people because what good is that I mean eventually it's all gonna go away anyways that's what Jesus saying Jesus and listen and be this guy that's like I I'm gonna be ready I'm gonna be like actively serving those around me and I'm not gonna be afraid of the day that Jesus comes back because he's gonna find me not like completely cleaned up my act or anything that's not what Jesus is talking about here he's gonna find me serving so I don't have to be afraid of that day I don't have to wonder what Jesus might say to me my dad didn't have to wonder what Jesus said to him on that Friday November 16th that he passed away what he heard was well done good and faithful servant that's what he's get thats what he heard right so I'm not afraid of the second coming of Jesus I'm not afraid of dying because I know that I'm gonna spend my life as much as I can being ready which means in this context being active in serving God and his people in the world that he created and I think that's what Jesus is trying to get us and I don't know there's a lot of various opinions about climate change and in our in the room right now and I'm not gonna tell you which side you should be on regarding that but it's interesting to me regarding that issue or any issue that there's a dis difference between people who on one extreme don't believe it's happening and on this other extreme so believe it's happening that they are willing to actively engage in doing something about it and then most of the rest of the people are somewhere here in the middle and we're like I don't know I should probably recycle right okay and and that but these people over here are so our so they believe it so much that they are willing to change their life do things differently in order for that to happen or not happen depending on the issue right and that's what Jesus is saying we need to be activists when it comes to our faith we need to not just be people who sit on the sidelines and watch it from a distance and wonder and it's like be ready I mean be active helping those be the people who give a word of encouragement on Facebook social media be the people who give a financial gift be the people that give a word of encouragement to a complete stranger a random act of kindness be the person who prays over someone else be the person who drives three hours to be with with some you know we're saying just be that be that person this Christmas how many of you have seen the movie Bruce Almighty anybody any fellow Bruce Almighty fans out there I this movie is really funny you guys it really is it's a great it's a great Christmas movie to watch during Christmas season this just makes you laugh and for those of you haven't seen that Bruce is a guy that life is falling apart on him and he's whining to God and he says something like if I if I were God I would do things differently so God he's played by Morgan Freeman amazing amazing character for this and he gives Bruce his powers and Bruce does some some tricks like splitting his soup tomato soup so that people could walk through it you know the whole Moses thing anyways this is funny scene so but then Morgan aka God comes to Bruce and has a conversation with him and and I think it's appropriate for us today he says Bruce parting your soup is not a miracle it's a magic trick a single mom who's working two jobs and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice that's America a teenager who says no to drugs and yes to an education that's a miracle people want me to do everything for them but what they don't realize is they have the power you want to see a miracle sign be the miracle there's something powerful about we realize that while we wait for the second coming of Jesus in the in-between time not only are we it more aware of what God is doing but that we are also the hands the feet the mouth the heart of Jesus tangibly to a world that desperately needs the hope of Jesus they desperately need to be for Jesus to be reborn over and over and over again as they see us loving each other caring for one another doing acts of kindness say this just things that are totally unexpected and then they realize oh maybe there's something to this see we are Jesus in the flesh in the in-between times to have the capacity to embody the hope of Jesus and listen we need the power of the Holy Spirit to do this I don't know about you but I can get tired and worn out by just doing acts of benevolence and kindness and compassion anybody know what compassion fatigue is you know and just get tired and all the needs and this is not enough hell there's just not enough money there's just not enough to go around and that one can what difference can I make it see we need the power of the Holy Spirit to infuse us with the character of God and I we don't talk a lot about the Holy Spirit on our weekends here this first Wednesday I decided we need it we need to unpack who the Holy Spirit is and what he wants to do in our lives and if you have questions about the Holy Spirit this would be a great opportunity to come we'll have interaction with one another but but ask the Lord say Lord fill me with your Holy Spirit today give me eyes to see the people around me that what you're doing how you're speaking to me through them and then also give me ideas and how I can be that for someone else this Christmas to stay awake this Christmas season don't go to sleep Steve I'm tired I know I know I'm tired too but I'm not talking about physically get as much sleep physically as you can so that you can be as active in the daylight as possible not for your sake but for his a great way to do that today as we're finishing up here I just want to mention the giving trees out there it's the last day for you to take a tag out there and if you don't know what our Giving Tree is we've been doing this for years where we provide Christmas to vulnerable families families that are in need families that are broken in our region and and every year that the tree runs out of tags this is the third service so maybe there's no more tags out there go find out prove me wrong I think there are some left and let's let's run out of tags today caring for those that desperately need help this Christmas and I believe this what happens you guys with every presence that's given with every is that there's hope given there's love given all right well I wants to close we have this what do you call this candles a group of candles on a stand anyway something that's more traditional for more traditional churches than ours do an Advent season every year and they often will light Advent candles to kind of commemorate the season and each candle represents something different and over this month we're going to unpack what each candle means and today is the candle of expectation or anticipation and and I'm gonna light it and just give you a moment to reflect on both being aware and awake to the reality of God's still moving in our day to day but also giving an opportunity to just reflect on ways in which God might use you to be hope in a life and encouragement to others in your life this Christmas so let me just like one of these candles and candle of expectation yeah go ahead and take a moment just personally quietly where you're at it was Jesus self that told us to be ready at any time so today we remember that call we remember the call to look for God in unexpected places at unexpected times and even though we're we're waiting we can expect our Savior to show up so Lord would you let the this candle light remind us that while we wait for you truly you are already here hope is here love is here family is here Jesus help us to be your hands in your heart and your mouth and your feet and your laugh and your love to those around us help us to be life fill us with your spirit today Jesus give us boldness and courage give us confidence and rest Jesus help us not to strive but to rest in your ability to work through us give us eyes to see the all the little ways the hundreds and thousands of ways that you work through individuals and through circumstances and situations in life help us to see you this Christmas in Jesus name Amen a couple things before we take off the prayer team is available they have little blue lights to help you find them and this could be an opportunity for you to have a moment with Jesus to have an experience with him to him for him to show up in your everyday also I want invite you back to first Wednesday already mentioned that that's this Wednesday at 6:30 it'll be a time of interaction after I get done kind of doing an overview of the Holy Spirit's hope you can join us for that and other that would you guys stand up and I want us to close with a confessional again this is kind of pulling from more traditional experience of church than what we typically have here at Westside but I want us to read this confessional together and and when I first read it I'll be honest with you and I we pulled it from a thing called the revised common lectionary and it's a it's an Anglican tool that the Anglicans use to connect themselves with Christ and but when I first read this confessional and we're gonna do that one of these probably every week and it was really convicting them to me it was like oh wow this is serious like I want my heart to be right in all of this and so as we read this if you I feel like you need to stop because you don't want to confess that go ahead and stop but if you're like me like no I really want all that God has for me this Christmas I want my heart to be open to his work in my life then go ahead and say all of the prayer with me but let's start together and we're gonna read it out loud and it'll be up on the screen on the side screens all right let's read this together ready go everlasting God we confess that we haven't been watching we haven't been looking out for you like a thief in the night you could pass us by and we would never know we have forgotten to look for you in the faces of our children of the homeless around us there is another side of rows in the immigrants who struggle as they even serve us forgive us we pray and make us ready to greet you in everyone we see on the street as we leave this place amen amen god bless you guys have an amazing Christmas season we see Wednesday night god bless you

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