Sermon preached December 23, 2012
We also had a Cantata of Lessons and Songs this day

Texts: Luke 1:39-45

Are you expecting? That’s been our theme these past weeks of the Advent season. When families are expecting a child, whether it be by birth or by adoption, they spend time learning. They get stuff ready – they nest. We want to be well prepared for the arrival of new life in our midst. That’s a good thing.
Yet no matter how much we learn, no matter how much we prepare, no matter how much we nest, there will be surprises along the way. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.” No matter how ready we are, there will be those leaping moments of surprise.
The same holds true in our spiritual lives, in our journey with Jesus, in our journey with God. God’s Spirit surprises no matter how deep our prayer life, no matter how sophisticated our theology. If we journey with Jesus, we will be surprised. There will be leaps of joy within us.
I have been surprised this Advent by a video. A few days ago, I was sent a link to a video of an orchestral flash mob. A flash mob is a gathering of folks typically called together through social media, and they just show up in a place. This particular flash mob was better organized than that. It was the town square in the Spanish community of Sabadell. It began with a bass. A crowd begins to gather as the musician plays. Other musician join the “mob” slowly. The final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, his “Ode to Joy” was played and sung by this gathered group. Watching it brought joy, especially as I remembered that Beethoven was suffering profound hearing loss as he wrote this, his final symphony. The story is told that after he conducted it, he had to be turned around to see the applause of the audience, because he could not hear it, and seeing their appreciation, he wept. Surprise.

Ode to Joy

Last Sunday, we had a friend of our community, Hajii, come as he has come the past few years, to bring goods made by refugees, the sale of which supports refugees. Before he left, Hajii made a gift of this print to us. It is a picture of a community and he thought it a nice symbol for us all. Surprise.
This past Thursday, out of the blue a member of the congregation called. He said he had recently heard about Julie’s mother’s health issues. Julie’s mom is receiving in-home hospice care. He said he didn’t know that it would make a difference, but just wanted me to know he was thinking about me. Surprise, and I thought of all the other times in our years together I have been surprised by your love and care. Not surprised that you cared, just delighted by particular expressions of that care.
Are you expecting? Are you expecting to be surprised by the Spirit of God this Advent and Christmas? God is about the business of such surprise, of moments of leaping joy.
And here’s another surprise. I’m done.