“Expect the Unexpected”
I don’t mean we pick it up and stare at it. But rather our view of how much we need. Do we have enough? Isn’t that the question we like to ask? Are we sure we have enough food for everyone? Should we ask for some more? Should we go out and buy some?
The question I have is, have we ever run out of food? Can anyone think of a time when people left the church hall with an empty stomach? One time I was at a church meal where twice as many people as expected showed up and people began to panic. I don’t mean 10 people showed up instead of 5. I mean 200 people showed up instead of 100. You know what? There was still food left over!
Sure we may run out of some things, like we had to go out and buy some extra biscuits for our strawberry tea. But I’ve never been to a church function where there wasn’t food left over. We know how to throw a feast! Churches all over the world excel at this ministry of productive kitchens.
We know how to be prepared, even if we never quite feel like we are prepared. If I said we were going to have a picnic in the park after church today, I bet we’d still manage to get enough food for everyone. We can be that prepared.
There’s much for us to do. It seems we are always getting prepared for something. A trip. A party. Visitors. Work. School. Vacation. Even for Sunday morning, there’s preparation that needs to happen. Bulletins to print. The choir practices. Readers get ready to read. There are doors to unlock, lights to turn on. In the winter the heat needs to be on nice and early. At the appointed hour, we are ready.
The bonus is this, we know when these things are going to happen. We know the timetable and what the steps should be leading up to most of these events. We follow a schedule, a plan.
And that’s the problem we have with our reading from Luke today. We don’t know when Jesus will return. He told us he will return at “an unexpected hour.”
Wouldn’t it be helpful if we knew when he was coming? You know, I’m sure many churches would like to know so they can have a light lunch after the service. And if Jesus is coming, we’re going to need a lot of food! He tends to travel with a big crowd, and I’m sure they’ll be hungry!
So, we don’t know when Jesus is coming. Every few years, you hear, “This is it! This is the end-times! Jesus will be here next Thursday!” People like to think they have figured out the secret messages in the Bible that will tell us exactly when he’ll come back. But then the day passes and nothing happens.
He’ll come at an “unexpected hour”. That’s what he said. Yes there may be signs, he mentions them in places in the New Testament, but we still won’t know when.
So we are told to be ready. All the time… be ready!
I like where he compares God to the master of the servants. The servants are ready all hours of the day for the master to come home. They aren’t exactly sure, when he’ll be back, so they wait up all night for him. They have been up working all night long so the house would be ready when the door opens. And when he tries to sneak into the house in the middle of the night, they are there to greet him.
So what does the master do when he gets home? Does he demand a meal? Does he put them to work? No… he rewards them. He takes off his coat and puts on the apron so they may be rewarded for their hard work with a feast he himself will prepare.
Imagine something like that happening today! Imagine the Queen returning back to London after her visit to Canada last month, looking around and telling her staff, “My, you have all done a marvellous job keeping up the palace while I was away, no go wash yourselves up because I’m making dinner for you all!” Somehow I don’t think that happened.
But it’s God’s promise to us. Some day Jesus will return to this earth. When? We don’t know. But we do have His promise, for those who continue to do His work, those who continue to show love, mercy and compassion for others, they will be rewarded. Those who take care of His creation will be rewarded.
When I read the news I cannot believe how blessed we are to live where we do. There’s no war. There’s no famine. We don’t live in fear for our lives. We are free to do what we please.
Sometimes this freedom makes it even harder to follow Jesus. Sometimes we miss the opportunities to serve him when we have it so good. Do you know where the church is growing the most? Africa. A place where there are many struggles in life is where more people are coming to know Jesus Christ and building churches.
In North America we have seen dramatic declines in our churches over the last 40 years. But we have it easy. We don’t face life challenges which really cause us to look for meaning and hope. So we need to work harder at it. We need to work hard at being ready.
So what’s the trick to being ready? How do we plan for the unexpected?
Be like Christ.
That’s it! Be like Christ.
Is this an easy thing to do? No, of course not. It means standing up for the oppressed. It means showing love to our neighbours. It means doing things we find easy to avoid and not do (and I don’t mean dishes or vacuuming).
There are parts of Sydney Mines I don’t like to walk through. It’s not because I don’t feel safe on those streets, it’s because I know if I’m spotted, someone might talk to me and I’ll have to hear about all their problems. And some homes on our streets have plenty of problems. There are days where I just don’t want to deal with problems, maybe I just want to enjoy a walk on a nice sunny day.
But then I feel guilty for even thinking this. These people know what I do, I’ve told them. They’ve probably seen me in my collar around town. They don’t go to any church, but they know what my role is.
It’s all part of being ready. Being ready is showing other people you care about their lives. You care about their struggles, and Lord knows we have plenty of those people on the Northside. And it’s an opportunity for them to see what we as a church body can offer. A listening ear. A supportive word. It could be any small gesture which might cause someone to think we have something they need.
That something is Jesus Christ in our lives.
The Bible tells us we will have struggles in our lives. But we are not alone in the struggles. God is right there with us, helping us through. We may not realize it at the time. We may think God has abandoned us, or we are being punished. That’s not the case. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the darkness, but there is light. There is hope. God is with us. Just ask and see.
So how can we expect the unexpected? We need to be aware of God among us. We need to seek God in all times. We need to remember God is with us in the good times and the bad. We need to remember the things Jesus told those who followed him.
And we need to learn to live out those things today.
We need to be ready, because we never know when the door will open and our master will walk among us once again.
So, we need to be prepared to expect the unexpected.