Pastor Dave Betzner
“Expectation and Expecting!”
Are you expecting? Are you in labor? Sure, you are. You are perhaps giving birth to some kind of financial scheme. Maybe you are expecting a child and haven’t broken the news yet. I’m anticipating a couple of new fishing trips this year and building a plan. Andrew is birthing a sermon for December 24 at 10 a.m. I know two couples who are initiating plans for marriage in the Spring. The ladies of the church are getting together a plan for decorating the church for Christmas. We are literally always expecting, anticipating, preparing, and laboring over something new.
The world finds itself in labor too. Sometimes that labor is prolonged and painful. The birth of a new health plan is still laboring because we can’t get it done. We wonder if delivery will happen and what kind of child it will be. The new Tax Plan isn’t in the delivery room yet. We are all laboring more than we would like over sexual misconduct, world hunger, and gun violence.
In the midst of all this, many in the world anticipate, expect and prepare for the celebration of the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. Even as the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s revelation, “by grace you are saved through faith” reverberates among us, we are being born anew. I hope that your awareness this Advent includes more than the simple veneer of trees, balls, bells, bags, bangles and bills. There is frankly too much of that.
A new thought! Like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and others in the Advent-Christmas love drama, it, this thought, might perplex, trouble, even make you afraid. It’s a Nicodemus thing, and it can be found in I Peter and I John; it’s “to be born again.” It’s about me, you, and everyone else who is called “child of God.” It means that we are constantly by God’s Spirit dying and rising, turning around and heading home, and growing up into the child of God he has called us to be.
Not unlike a pregnancy, being born again has its inconvenience, its morning – and perhaps evening sickness, the stares of others, the hopes and fears and the joyful/troubled feelings of a necessary delivery.
How might you, by God’s Grace, be being born again this Advent and Christmas? Might it be the heart of a pastoral candidate being moved to accept a call? Could it by chance be a song of the heart, like Mary’s Magnificat, or Zechariah’s Benedictus, or the Angels’ Gloria, or Simeon’s Nunc Dimittus springing up in your heart? Could it be the birth of a new mission effort to the community by Good Shepherd? Perhaps you are opening your heart to a new call for justice among the poor, the sick, or the immigrant? Perhaps you are being born again by giving up a prejudice, or a bad habit, or a grudge against someone.
It is sure that however you labor, no matter how long the gestation, or whatever the change, your new birth involves God’s Spirit working in you.
He will deliver as promised, in his Son our Savior, Jesus, and you will be born again to the living hope which is ours through him.