The Greatest Expectation

Dec. 6 — On the Third Sunday of Advent we light the candle of joy. It’s the pink candle, interrupting the Advent mood of patient purple candle waiting with shouts of joy!

Are you joyful when you are waiting? That’s not generally how I would describe my mood when I’m waiting for something, but maybe this Advent I need to confess that and seek Biblical wisdom on how to enter into the uncertainty of faith, and of life, with more joy and less worry.

This week’s passage continues Luke’s description of the ministry of John the Baptizer, in Luke 3:7-18. This week people wonder whether John is the Messiah. Is he here to save them…from making the same mistakes over and over again? From the wrath of God’s judgment….? From ….something else? His presence starts awakening their expectations. And John himself is the first to disappoint those expectations: he states explicitly that he’s NOT the Messiah, he baptizes with water but the Messiah baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

I think it’s fascinating that people put expectations onto John, and John simply refused to try and live up to them. His purpose was different than the purpose of people who came out to see this “prophet.” He wanted repentance from those who didn’t think they had done anything wrong; he wanted generosity from those who had more to give than they realized; he wanted people to be satisfied with what they were given, instead of letting big expectations always lead them to more, more, more – to theirs and others’ detriment.

Perhaps, then, the greatest expectation is not how much and how great our lives could be. Perhaps the greatest expectation is that someone greater than us is coming, to baptize us with the Holy Spirit, to show us the way, the truth, and the life, that sets us free from the expectations that harm ourselves and others. Maybe the greatest expectation at Christmas is not what’s in it for us, but how we might share the gift we have already been given in Christ. That could be a reason for joyful waiting! See you in church.