BY REV. DR. SARAH ROHRET - CALVARY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The holidays are a time full of high expectations. We are taught by our culture that in this season everyone should be happy, well fed, have no worries and the picture perfect family. We are taught by families, certain traditions and expectations for what to do, what to eat, who to visit. Yet often we struggle to live up to these expectations. Some expectations are unrealistic — no family is picture perfect all the time. Some expectations simply cannot be reached — life changes, traditions don't fit anymore. Yet we are told in scripture to spend our lives in hopeful expectation of God's presences among us. The trick is to live with the right expectations and let go of the unrealistic ones.
I remember as a child the Christmas after my mother was remarried. I was old enough to remember what we had done in years past and to expect that things would be the same. But this new step-father changed things. He didn't do things the way they should be done and it felt like he had messed up my whole Christmas. I sat and sulked and cried bitter tears of which 8-year-old girls are experts.
Looking back I wish someone had said to me, "It's OK for things to change. It's OK for it to be different. Expect that it will be wonderful anyway."
So I am saying this to you who may have new people in your lives, or you may have lost someone, or other things in your life may have changed:
• We can't expect people to behave the way we want them to, but we can expect that God will be with us.
• We can't expect every meal to be perfection, but we can expect to be fed with joy when we are thankful for our food.
• We can't expect every tradition to be followed like grandma did, but we can expect to find meaning when we remember the reason for the season.
• We can't expect a perfect house, but we can expect the perfect love of God to fill our homes.
• We can't expect the craziness of the world to stop, but we can expect God's peace to lead us in making our part of the world a little better.
• We can't expect everyone to be all loving all the time, but we can expect God's love to fill our hearts when others let us down.
A wise pastor told me once: every conflict is the result of miscommunicated expectations.
Expect that there will be surprises and plans will go awry and expect to laugh, love and be at peace no matter what.
Have a blessed Holy-day season and Merry Xmas.