As we begin to explore our December theme of Expectation, I'm realizing some of the lessons I've been learning since my injury in late October. When people have asked about my recovery, one of my common responses has been impatience that it's going more slowly than I would prefer. (I keep hearing myself say, "I'm learning that my version of 'taking it slowly' is not slow enough for this situation!") I'd love to already be back in the office on Tuesdays and the pulpit on Sundays, but that hasn't been possible yet. I've had to adjust my expectations, and adapt my work style to accommodate my temporary limitations. I'm grateful that technology allows me to participate in the life and ministry of the church from home, but it's not what I expected to be doing!
This is part of life on a smaller scale almost all the time, for most of us--but it's only when we are faced with a major disruption that we become conscious of the gap between our expectations and our reality.
What expectations might we, as individuals and as a community, be holding without even realizing it? Which ones might we need to reconsider, out of kindness to ourselves or others, or out of necessity?
One that comes to mind immediately is that we often have expectations about the winter holidays. We have images (reinforced by songs, movies, and television commercials) of the "perfect family holiday" and we often compare ourselves and our realities to those images, without even knowing we're doing it. We can then end up disappointed--in small ways or big ones--by our experience of the holiday season if it doesn't measure up to those images. Can we let go of at least some of our expectations, and engage in the spiritual practice of being in the moment?
I also am keenly aware that for some of us, the holidays are not a time we anticipate with high expectations of joy and celebration, but a time we approach with more conflicted feelings, or even without outright dread, for a whole variety of reasons. If the holiday season is more challenge than joy for you, or if you struggle with it for any reason, I invite you to reach out to me or to others who can give you some extra support this December. This is something we can expect in this beloved community--that we are here for each other in good times and bad, reaching out to each other with love.
From the minister