This post was written by Paul Emmerson
Great Expectations is the title of the novel, written in 1860, by Charles Dickens. It follows the childhood and young adult years of Pip a blacksmith’s apprentice in a country village. He suddenly comes into a large fortune (his great expectations) from a mysterious benefactor and moves to London where he enters high society. However, during the course of the novel, Pip comes to realize that his “great expectations”—social standing and wealth—are less important than loyalty and compassion.
Have you ever come to the conclusion that your ‘great expectations’ turned out to be ‘not as expected’! I remember in the early 1980’s owning a Fiat Strada motor car. At the time, this car was heavily promoted in the media as the car to have! However, for me it turned out to be one of my biggest regrets! It spent more time in the garage than on the road, and certainly didn’t live up to my expectations!!
However, a ‘not as expected’ experience can sometimes be positive. Maybe you have gone to an event, thinking that you’d rather be at home watching TV? It’s a cold wet evening but you’ve gone along (under protest), and it ended up being an event that you wouldn’t have missed for the world! You expected something dull and uninteresting, and you got something that surpassed all expectations!
This weekend is the beginning of Advent. Advent is a season of the liturgical year as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming.
The words of the Advent hymn come to mind, ‘Come, thou long-expected Jesus’…… But when Jesus showed up, He overturned and surpassed all hopes of what He would be and do! And whilst the coming of Jesus was prophesied by some, Jesus was certainly not what most people were expecting. For the Religious Leaders of the day, He was the total opposite of the kind of ‘messiah’ they had imagined, and they quickly set about trying to discredit and get rid of Him. For the poor, the sick and those outcast by society, His arrival was the best thing since sliced bread!!! Those who met Him never left unchallenged or unchanged. For many, the encounter carried the potential of total – and unexpected- transformation!
2020 has certainly been the year of the ‘unexpected’, and for many it’s hard to muster any sort of positive expectation; and yet I see a similarity to the time of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah’s ministry lasted almost 60 years and covered the reigns of four kings. Isaiah lived through the dark days of civil war between Israel and Judah; saw the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians; doom and gloom were the order of the day, yet in the midst of such a turbulent time, a message of HOPE was announced – Read: Isaiah 9:2-7.
The recent announcement of a vaccine has brought encouragement and an expectation that the COVID virus might well be brought under control. One of the Government Scientists said that because of the development of a vaccine, ‘hope springs eternal’ – I get where he is coming from, yet I would use these same words to sum up Isaiah 9:2-7! Isaiah reminds us in 9:1 that ‘the time of darkness and despair will not go on forever’ (NLT).
For you today, because of Jesus, ‘hope
springs eternal’. This season of Advent come and meet an ‘unexpected Jesus’ – and never be the same again.
‘Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee’….