Not What Was Expected!


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There was a ton of excitement! A lot of expectation...people knew what they wanted to see and anticipated a win. The 1988 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary, and there was electricity in the air everywhere. There was a rush to complete the venues. There was a rush to finish the renovations of all the hotels in the area. Olympic paraphernalia was everywhere. I was in the throes of completing an MA and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to thinking about much of any of it, but I do remember thinking how cool it was going to be to watch the Canadian National Hockey Team win the Olympic gold, right there where I was living. Even for one who’s been accused of unhealthy stoicism, that was exciting!

Curiously, as I think about it today, what I remember most vividly is what wasn’t expected. Canada didn’t win the gold medal. Neither did the USA, either of which would have been acceptable to me. The Soviet Union won gold, Finland silver and Sweden bronze. How blah.... Some fellow won three gold medals in events in speed skating, but he was expected to win one or two. Nice for him, but so???

The things that are memorable are the things that really should never have happened.

First, Michael Edwards. Edwards, called “Eddie the Eagle,” was the first Brit since 1938 to participate in both the 70 meter and 90 meter ski jumps in the Winter Olympics. He was entertaining, he was flamboyant, and he was an underdog. Sadly, he wasn’t very competitive in his events. In fact, he finished dead last in both events. A movie was made about this unlikely hero in 2016, entitled “Eddie the Eagle.”

Next, an Olympic outdoor sporting team, from a tropical country. In 1988, Jamaica made its first foray into the world of Olympic bobsledding. With participants who’d never seen snow or ice, they set out to defy all odds to win Olympic glory. Again, unsuccessfully, but what a story! A movie based on that story was released in 1993, called “Cool Runnings.”

In 1988 there was a lot of expectation; a lot of anticipation of who would be the best. But in the end, none of that mattered. What is remembered are these unexpected stories of success; not in winning but in being there, in playing! This was not what was expected!

The Christmas story is a lot like that. At the time Jesus was born, there was a great deal of expectation and hope attached to the idea of a Messiah. A King who would come, who would fight victoriously against the oppressors, and regain the promised land for God’s children. There were pretty clearly conceived notions of the grandeur of that king, and of his coming. But the Christmas story tells us that none of that happened. What happened was unexpected, counter-intuitive, even upside down. Certainly, not what was expected!

We hope that you’ll join us for worship on Christmas Eve this year, as we’ll recount the story of the coming of our king, not what was expected, but what was necessary! We will gather at 5:00 pm for a family friendly contemporary service of lessons and carols, and also at 8:00 pm for a more traditional service of lessons and carols. I really hope to see you all there!

May our Savior’s coming, albeit not what was expected, be a blessing to one and all!


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