December 16, 2001

Matthew 11:2-11

[Jesus has been teaching and preaching.] John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?"

Jesus told them, "Go back and tell John what's going on:
     The blind see,
     The lame walk,
     Lepers are cleansed,
     The deaf hear,
     The dead are raised,
     The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!"

When John's disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That's right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you'll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, 'I'm sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.'

"Let me tell you what's going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him...."

<The Message >


1. Advent is a most joyous time. Even in the midst of prison we can ask, beyond the bars, about the meaning of life. Even when we have identified a the growth edge of tomorrow, as John has identified Jesus, it is not always clear that edge is still flowering. We need to check our own perceptions as well as those of others.

Advent is a time of double-checking our perception. Are our expectations still bursting into bud and fruit or have they dried up? It is not unusual for us to be fooled so double-checking along the way is important. It is particularly important if we are feeling trapped in the circumstances of life.

So, how are your expectations doing? Advent is an excellent time to find out and not just keep trucking along the same old highway.

2. So what are you expecting? Is that a large enough expectation in which to invest your life? What would happen if you expanded your expectation base? I suspect most of us would initially be fearful and think we were being unrealistic. I suspect that we really can't go wrong to expand our expectations even if one danger is that of depression because we aren't seeing it come to pass quickly enough for our benefit within the current constructs of society and its payoffs.

A first step would be to separate expectation from results. The best expectations lead us beyond results. It becomes enough simply to live within a great expectation. This is miracle enough. Jesus lists some great expectations. How many of them do you hold? (Remember not to limit these expectation to their literal meaning - what would it mean to be lame in relationship as well as in body or mind or spirit?) Have you experienced an even greater expectation than this beginning list?

3. An Advent meditation could go on around the image of the "realm" you have been prepared for. So, what have you been prepared for and have you settled for less than that?

Have you been prepared to follow blindly where leaders lead? Have you been prepared to have your eyes and life opened?

Have you been prepared to limp through life captive to work? Have you been prepared to stride forward to re-creation?

Have you been prepared to live a life calling out about yourself, "Unclean, unclean!"? Have you been prepared to be restored to a life in community with all the support and correction issues that implies?

Have you been prepared to close your ears to the cries of the world about which you can do nothing? Have you been prepared to hear a voice of silence giving you the assurance needed to be involved with new-life and the rejection of a mechanistic God?

Have you been prepared to fade away and die and wait for by-and-by? Have you been prepared to be resurrected in this life?

Have you been prepared to be stuck in the limits of your culture? Have you been prepared to learn how to learn and to learn about more than religious and cultural leaders are comfortable having you know?

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