Summary: Having big expectations of God.
There is a ministry of this church that takes place every Thursday that there is school. The Good News Club meets after school every single Thursday. I haven’t said enough about it. What is going on there is truly amazing.
We have been averaging between 15 to 20 kids every week. Dan Utley is head of Child Evangelism Fellowship (C.E.F.) here in western New York. He drives in from out in the country every week to lead this ministry. Dena Vasquez brings Brianna every week, and has been providing snacks for us. I’m there, and sometimes Jeremy, our youth director comes to help. Sometime between 3:45 and 4:00, the kids come. Except for Brianna, I don’t think any of the other kids are from church families. They are all neighborhood children. They come in full of energy, literally bouncing off the walls. We start of by attempting to harness that energy into an organized came. Then we sit down for a snack. Finally, we come back over by the stage downstairs and sit on the ground, sing songs, and listen to a story, a presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every single week, these kids hear a message of good news, that Jesus has died for them, loves them and has the very best thing for them.
It is quite a group of kids. Two of them in particular command quite a bit of our attention. Some of you may know Damion and Damone. They come regularly to Sunday School as well. They are two young boys, I would guess around 7 years old, twins. They are what our culture now calls “at risk kids”. That just means they don’t have a lot going for them in this world. They are so young. But I look at them, all their undirected energy, all their mischievousness, and I I wonder what to expect from their lives. And I think about what it is that we are saying to these little children, and I wonder what it is that we can expect from that as well? When I look at their lives, it is easy to expect lots of hardship and struggle. But when I hear the very simple words that we are telling these kids, I wonder what it is that we are expecting to happen with them.
You know the words. You have heard them a million times before – good church words, words that are in this passage, words like redemption, savior, mercy, covenant, holiness, righteousness, salvation, light, peace. I am a classically trained theologian of sorts. I have both a bachelor’s and a masters degrees in Religious Studies. I’ve spent years studying and proclaiming the nuances and ins and outs of those words. There are literally thousands of books on each one of them.
But on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings, what is at stake is a whole lot more than an understanding of the meaning of those words. What is at stake is whether those words and the other words and stories that we use to communicate them to those kids, to all of us, …whether those words penetrate their hearts and lives, ..our hearts and lives. The question is, do I expect those words and the ministry that they are couched in to change, to transform, their lives forever? Every Thursday, downstairs, the message of life is proclaimed to children. What do we expect to happen?
This is the season of expectations. It is the time to look ahead and decide what it is we expect to happen. What are you expecting this Christmas? I hope that you are expecting great things.
The topic of expectations comes up often in church because it is so important. With our expectations, we set our line of vision in a certain direction. Those are the things that we see in our lives. If something goes on outside of that line of vision, we either miss it or we are surprised by it and not ready for it. As we approach the coming of the savior, what are we looking at?
I have to tell you, very honestly, that a good portion of my life is spent setting expectations in the smaller areas of my life. It does not mean they are not important and worth my time. I mean things like expecting to do the dishes after dinner and clean the house at such and such a time. I expect to be caring for my kids here, for these people to be taking care of those things, for the car to start when I turn the key, for someone to say certain things to me. A huge portion of my life is spent thinking about what it is I expect. Those are the things my eyes are on.