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Unexpected Surprises


This evening I encountered one of the most amazing miracles of all creation.  I held a newborn baby – less than two hours old – in my arms.  That may not seem like such a big deal to many people, but to me it is incredible.  I am a 54-year-old woman who has never been blessed with the experience of bringing a child into the world.  I have held nieces and nephews, and the newborn infants of congregation members but never have I held a baby that newly born.  As the family and I stood in the hospital room, tears of joy at the miracle that is life trickled down more than one set of cheeks; my own among them.  I looked down at the wee little baby in my arms, the loving family gathered around in that comfortable albeit institutional – hospital room and was struck by a moment of profound clarity.

Our Lord, Jesus was once this tiny.  His little mouth would have pursed hoping to suckle just as this wee one was doing.  He would have let out a hungry cry of discontent.  As I left the hospital and returned to my vehicle, I couldn’t stop pondering that thought along with the reminder that there was no comfortable hospital room, but a stable – most likely a cave instead.  The tears began to trickle again, for an entirely different reason altogether.  Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the surprising absurdity of the whole idea of the Incarnation.  I thought of that hours-old baby I had just held.  This, THIS was the way that the God of all creation chose to reveal himself to the world – in human form.  Yes, I know that this is not news.  We all KNOW this.  But the surprising absurdity of the incarnation became amazingly, well, incarnate to me as I held that baby tonight.

The Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God, the Long-Expected One –  no one would have expected such an inauspicious arrival.  God promised that something new was about to be underway, but what a surprise it was when it began.  And if the absurdity of Jesus’ birth is one incredible surprise, consider the reality that it is only the beginning of the surprises which God has in store for us through Jesus.  Consider the surprising and unexpected people he chose to be his disciples.  Fishermen?  Tax collectors?  Seriously?  Consider the surprising twists that generally conclude his parables; the way he turns the questions of his challengers back on them with questions of his own.  Even his closest companions and disciples found themselves surprised as Jesus ministry unfolded.  It was never quite what they expected.  From his ignoble birth to his ministry – just about everything about Jesus could probably be described as unconventional, particularly in light of who he was and who Israel expected the Messiah to be.  And that final trip to Jerusalem – the predictions of his own death.   The apparent end to the story one tragic Friday and then one last surprise on a Sunday morning when tragedy becomes good news.    Jesus says to his followers “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom full of incredible surprises. 

Looking for evidence of the kingdom and the presence of Jesus around us?  Better expect to be surprised, because if God is at work, the unexpected and surprising are bound to be the norm. 

Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Messiah, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God – a baby; an unconventional human full of surprises?  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Thanks be to God for failing to meet our expectations and miraculously surprising us with the kingdom.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. 14October2011 10:54

    Katie… This is beautiful. And if it’s not the core of your Christmas Eve sermon this year, you’re missing a great opportunity. Blessings, my friend. ~ David

    • 15October2011 19:45

      David – I has the same thought about the sermon as I typed it. That “life” had just handed me my Christmas Eve sermon. Talk about incedible surprises. 🙂

  2. 15October2011 07:48

    Katie…David must be a great mind because I had precisely the same thought…. (tongue, please get out of my cheek!!!!) Seriously, though,you (and any preacher who reads this) has the root of his/her Christmas Eve message in hand. Be prepared, you may be quoted! Peace to you…. Pamela

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