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Great expectations

December 22, 2011 No Comment

Christmas greetings from the Central District president

President Thomas Prachar

by Thomas Prachar

Christmas is a time of expectations, and we usually expect the same things to take place Christmas after Christmas. You take care of that last-minute shopping because Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without giving and receiving gifts. You make sure you have enough of the food everyone likes at this time of year, especially those cookies that go so well with the eggnog you always mix. You buy a hefty turkey. It’s never ham or beef or chicken or goose or duck or fish for Christmas—your family always has turkey! You set up the real Christmas tree you purchased, or haul the artificial tree from the basement, setting it in the same place it always has been, decorating it with the same decorations and lights. You steel yourself for the visits to and from relatives where you have to endure once again that slightly drunk and rather obnoxious uncle. You plan to go to church on Christmas Eve, anticipating a little peace and quiet after the frenzy of your Christmas preparations. At church you look forward to singing all your favourite Christmas carols so that you might finally get into that ever-elusive “Christmas spirit.”

We all have traditions our families look forward to each Christmas. Is there any wonder that depression runs rampant during the holiday season? Sometimes what we expect Christmas to be just doesn’t measure up. For some reason, the giving and receiving of gifts doesn’t seem as special this Christmas as you simply go through the motions. You’re disappointed because no store was selling your favourite cookies this year, and all the stores were out of that special ingredient for the eggnog. You purchased the store’s last turkey, and it didn’t taste as good as in other years. Because you bought new living-room furniture last fall, your Christmas tree doesn’t fit where it usually goes. Now the room looks odd without the tree in its traditional place. Your obnoxious uncle died in July, and you wish he was here, even if a little drunk. At church for some reason (you’ll have to talk to the pastor) your favourite Christmas carol wasn’t sung. How can we get into the “Christmas spirit” when our expectations aren’t met?

Our Christmas expectations may be set too high, and when the “same old thing” or what we expect to happen doesn’t, we figure we’re in for a terrible Christmas celebration. Many times we expect too much from Christmas, or too little!

We forget God often works in ways that are totally unexpected, often acting beyond our expectations. He provided a Saviour for sinful human beings, not with pomp and fanfare but having His very own Son take on human flesh. Jesus gives us much more than we expect or deserve: the forgiveness of all our sins by His innocent suffering and atoning death on the cross. And so each Christmas our God works beyond our expectations. We may expect peace on earth, presents and happiness. But Jesus gives us much more: peace, joy and blessings forevermore with Him in heaven.

At Christmas, as well as throughout the year, when we are tempted to doubt the promises of God, He does the unexpected and reassures us of His promises through His holy Word. When we sit alone at Christmas, depressed because our expectations haven’t been met, we know we are God’s dear child through the waters of Holy Baptism. When everyone in the family is arguing and there seems to be no goodwill, our Saviour does the unexpected and gives us His body and blood in, with and under bread and wine to strengthen our faith.

No matter what your expectations for Christmas, our God gives us the faith to expect the unexpected. His holiness does what our sinfulness doesn’t expect. And that means a very blessed Christmas for you!

——————–

Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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