The words and familiar tune bring me right to early December and annual Christmas preparations. Preparations that we hope will remind us of celebrations past. But the very words challenge us to look to a different celebration. Come thou long expected Jesus, Born to set your people free. Come Jesus and change the rules of faith and life. Jesus was exactly the opposite of the Savior expected by the Jews at the time of the census decreed by the Emperor Augustus.
In our winter of Monday morning snow storms we are reminded that at times even the weather can become a pattern we anticipate. How many Monday morning storms will continue the pattern? Students and teachers have had to find ways to compensate for cancelled Monday classes, congregations have had to adjust to weather predictions and early storm events (remember the ice out in Jan?). Will we be surprised when this pattern changes in the next four weeks?
Come thou long expected Jesus and change our patterns and experiences.
Summer camps have always been exciting to me as each summer is a new creation. New campers, returning campers who have grown up over the year, new staff excited about sharing faith and returning staff looking forward to adding new energy based on past summers and their time in between. As much as each summer might look like the last, each new one will be different and exciting as we allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring change and excitement.
Come thou long expected Jesus and change the way we teach about faith.
This is the season of ordinations and installations of church officers. We give thanks for the service of those rotating off and look forward to the energy and enthusiasm of those newly elected. Our challenge in faith is to allow Jesus and the Spirit to bring change to conversations and deliberations around these tables. New members are not a plug in replacement but new voices. Listen and allow the conversations and actions to change.
Come thou long expected Jesus, Born to set your people free,
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest (in your unexpected Kingdom)
Peter Surgenor is the Executive Director of Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center, Holmes, NY.