Good morning all!
When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her.
On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother intervened: “No. He is to be called John.”
“But,” they said, “no one in your family is named that.” They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named.
Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, “His name is to be John.” That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—Zachariah’s mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God!
A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.”
What a surprise! I feel as though we should be saying this all of the time when we are looking at Advent and what God does in the world. God is full of surprises. This is pretty evident in today’s scripture. Luke begins not by Jesus’ birth narrative but by John’s birth narrative. Elizabeth and Zachariah are up in age and Zachariah is a priest. God tells Zachariah that they will have a child. Z (as I call him for short) doesn’t believe God and God says, “ok, then….maybe you won’t talk until then.” Z can’t talk for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Now, that is a way to wait. Already God is surprising left and right. THEN on top of that, just when Elizabeth has John and before Zachariah gets his voice back (which the first words are praise to God, btw), they have this debate about John’s name. It doesn’t make sense to people. Why would he be John? The answer is because God said so (ultimate trump card) and everyone is surprised but believe God is in this thing.
What a surprise!
This is even before God tells Mary that she will have a baby….surprise!
And that that baby will be God with us…SURPRISE!
God is a God of surprises. No doubt!
This is something I really try to remember in my day to day world. God is full of surprises. People will surprise me and God will break through and show up no matter what. BUT what if I am actually expecting surprises….it makes them all the more delightful. If I am just busying along and forget that God will show up…God will anyway but I might miss it the first few times. What if we actually expected God to show up? And then when it totally shocks us, we can delight in that instead of being totally thrown off?
The nature of surprise is that you are taken aback a bit and put on a different course. But surprise can also be enlightening, helpful, delightful and can help us see things in the world that we haven’t seen before. Surprises help us experience things in the world that we hadn’t experienced before and we bond over those surprises. Ok, perhaps it is time for another improv everywhere. It is hard to talk about surprises and not talk about these incidents. Every scene is one of surprise and it changes the course of the people in the day. Plus it adds a component of something not seen before. It bonds the people involved as well as the people watching. For me, these videos are a good reminder to keep present in the moment. Surprises keep us present.
Advent is about keeping present. Actively waiting. Being aware of where God breaks through…SURPRISE! What is surprising to you today?