One of Charles Dickens’s (he of A Christmas Carol fame) most famous novels is entitled Great Expectations. At the risk of trying to one up one of England’s great authors, I’m suggesting that a small 2020 Advent improvement to his title could be had with this tweak: “Great Expectancy.”
There is a world of difference between having our expectations met and living in expectancy.
As 2020 wanes, the list of our unrealized expectations for the year is brutally long and painful. It’s fair to wonder how we’ll feel if much of 2021 continues in the same direction. Unmet expectations leave us weary, disappointed, discontented, and depressed. This is exactly where our society finds itself as Christmas 2020 approaches.
This Christmas will certainly fail to meet our expectations for warm family gatherings, lively church services, festive music and good cheer. I encourage you to actively disavow and shed your traditional expectations!
What’s more, as December daylight still decreases each day, COVID diagnoses are on the rise along with hospitalizations and premature death. And yet, in the midst of the bad news and signs of trouble breaks this shining promise: a vaccine is coming.
How many prayers have been offered for a vaccine, for a cure, for God to provide some pathway out of this pandemic? We can now see a possibility of how these prayers might be answered.
I’ve personally prayed for patience. I’ve prayed for God to use this time to promote learning and deep growth. But above all I’ve prayed for healing and a cure. I now feel like dawn is breaking and the first hopeful rays of light are cracking the dark horizon.
It’s so fitting that this glimmer of hope would come along during Advent — the season when the Church practices the posture of expectant waiting. Expectancy wonders and waits for what God might do. Expectancy does not demand a particular outcome, but trusts God to deliver from his graciousness. Expectancy keeps our vision trained on God’s promises and our hearts set on God’s ways. Expectancy puts us in a posture of wild hopefulness combined with a joyful surrender to God’s perfect timing. Expectancy comes with open, empty hands, eager to receive whatever-it-is that will come from God.
Even as we shed our longstanding holiday expectations, I encourage you to lean into a holy expectancy for what God has in store. The candles may be flickering for now, but there just may be a burning bush just around the bend.
As the season of Advent begins and 2020 finishes, I find myself brimming with a fresh sense of expectancy. Perhaps it’s only naiveté or unfounded optimism. Perhaps it’s actual faith that’s persistently transforming my spirit! I trust I’m not the only one.
May Advent blessings be yours,