Expect the Unexpected

The Scripture readings for today emphasize God’s desire to do good things for God’s people and for all people who will respond in a positive way to God.  Luke quotes Jesus, “Do not be afraid any longer, my little flock of people, for God your Father has expressed a strong desire to give to you the kingdom of God.”  Jesus urges people to sell their material goods and to provide for the poor, to build up their treasures in the heavens, and to be alert at all times, watching for the coming of the Son of Man.  We are urged by faith to accept good things from God and to be ready when good things are dispensed so that we will miss no opportunity to receive them.  God’s desire to do good things for us is “gospel,” good news for all! 
I find it intriguing that Jesus tells us to be dressed for any and all actions.  He goes so far as to say that if the owner of a house knew what time a thief was going to appear, then he wouldn’t have let his house be broken into.  Likewise, Jesus points to his later coming when the kingdom of God is complete, saying, “You must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 
Life is filled with unexpected events and surprises.  Sometimes the “happenings” are the source of great joy and bring relief to the routine and boring tasks of everyday life.  You have often heard me say, “Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed” and I often pray for boredom but God chooses not to listen to that petition in my prayer!  Sometimes the unexpected event or person is viewed as a disruption, an annoyance or worse still, a source of pain or anxiety.  When the unexpected occurs, there frequently is nothing we can do to avoid it.  Often the difference between an event being one of joy or pain is our degree of readiness for what happens.  Those who have prepared for the unexpected will use the opportunity afforded them to grow. My recent vacation was a mixture of some of those opportunities to grow in patience, compassion and understanding.  I leaned plenty about expecting the unexpected.  On Friday, only four days before I was to leave home and begin my three week sojourn, my mother called to say that she had had an accident which totaled her car, but she and the people she hit were all OK–Phew!  That was a relief because mom is almost 89.  She was planning on buying the car back but it would no longer be insurable–it was totaled, so it no longer exists to be insured–only PL and PD.  I had to rent a car to drive from the airport to mom’s (she usually comes with someone else driving her car to pick me up) and for the next ten days to get her to doctor appointments, shopping and out to dinner (she did not want me to have to work/cook while I was there).  According to the sign on mom’s dining room wall, she only serves three kind of meals: frozen, microwave and take-out! After my adventures with Mom, I drove back to the Ashville airport and flew to the US Air hub in Charlotte, the same city I spent four nights in two years ago when I thought it would be a great stroll down memory lane to visit Mom for Christmas.  There was a blizzard–the worst in 55 years and no snow removal equipment at the airport to clear the runway.  This time, all the planes were overbooked and my college roommate, whom I was to meet in Toronto, enjoyed the hotel room by herself as I arrived a day later.  It rained almost non-stop for three days, but stopped so that we could enjoy the open dome at the Sky Dome to watch the Toronto Blue Jays trounce the Houston Astros, to the delight of the Canadians all around us.  We got around Toronto via trolleys (buses) and subways utilizing the complex public transportation system, rather than pay a fee to get the car in and out of the hotel garage.  Parking in Toronto is like parking in New York City.  At the end of the second day, I read the fine print at the ticket booth in the subway and discovered I could have saved money with the senior citizen’s rate.  We drove to the Muskoka Lake region to soak up beautiful greenery/scenery, and more rain and temperatures from 58-68 degrees, and then went on to the North Detroit suburbs to experience more rain, but I got to visit my Alma Mater and view a whole new campus that has been added in the last 44 years.  I walked across the Diag and past the coffee shop I used to work in, which recently was sold.  It seemed like my vacation was destined to be extended because all the planes were overbooked and I would not be able to return home unless I switched airlines.  My suitcases had an all day stay at Phoenix International Airport and I arrived later in the evening so I could return to work on the designated day.  “Expect the unexpected.”  Lack of readiness and preparation for what we do not know can be unnerving and create anxiety butwhen we get over the initial shock and past the frustration, we can calm down and go about our business until another unplanned event appears.  Jesus is telling us to be responsible people, to ourselves and God, and not to allow the possibilities that events and people present to us to be lost.  We can grow only to the extent that we are open to what is presented to us.  If we are closed off due to lack of readiness, a complacent attitude, or refusal to interact with people or to deal with problematic situations or events, we will be the losers.  If we are not ready when God’s challenges manifest themselves in events to people, then we will lose a whole lot more.  If we are not ready when Jesus Christ comes to reclaim the world, we will lose everything.  We need to be ready and watching, “For the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” We need to ponder these questions: –Challenges in life present us with many different avenues and paths, some of which we would rather not travel when the fork in the road comes.  Have we prepared our minds and hearts for the path it will take or do we miss an opportunity because of our hesitation? –Do we plan for the future and make necessary preparations or live only for the moment and make no provisions for our future? –Do we safeguard the things entrusted to us?  Are we good stewards of God’s gifts? Are we prepared for the unexpected person, the “thief in the night,” who may come to destroy the things God has given to us? –What responsibility do we have toward others to see that they are prepared for the future?  Do we think of ourselves or can we extend our care to others?  Do we keep watch for others as well as ourselves? –It is exhausting and impossible to be awake at all times, but are we ready for the unexpected event when our senses are aroused to its occurrence?  Do we wait with a sense of joyful expectation or of fear and dread? 
I came home from vacation to find the preschool taking on a delightful new appearance under the leadership of our new director/teacher, who is diligently preparing for the opening of our new program.  She sang praises about the more than fifteen people who came to clean, inventory and prepare for school to open.  I went to Chancel Choir practice on Wednesday and was greeted by 25 smiling faces eager to praise God in song under the direction of our new choir director.  The lot behind the Fellowship Hall had two huge dumpsters placed on it to receive the debris from the dilapidated structure on it, due to be removed on Saturday-yesterday.  The ground shook on Friday as the giant palm tree, home to millions of cockroaches and palmetto bugs (and pigeons) was cut down.  God has great plans for the future of Peoria Presbyterian Church as we seek to care for what has been entrusted to us in this little corner of the kingdom of God.  Thank you to all who have been expecting the unexpected in my absence and faithfully preparing for our glorious future–yet to be revealed.  To God be the glory. Amen.

Categories: Weekly Sermon