Thought for the Week 12 Jan

Surprisingly Unsurprised

hoto by June O on Unsplash


When last were you properly surprised?

Not the surprise of an unexpected visitor or finding a lost piece of jewellery that you had lost and given up finding anymore. No, more the surprise of fully expecting one thing and then being met by quite the opposite. Whether for the better or for the worse.

Given the generally predictable and rather risk averse day to day existence we experience in western metropolitan suburbia serious surprises of wonder or exasperation seem quite rare.

As a person whose faith plays a big part in my life, I wonder whether we ever get surprised by God anymore.

Like Hannah or Elizabeth of the barren womb yet surprisingly baring a baby episodes. Like the giant being slain by the boyish shepherd lad story. Like the “surely his body must have been stolen” disappearing and reappearing act of the murdered would-be messiah on Easter Sunday.

The prophet that ran away after his victory and hid in the mountain cave who wanted to experience God was surprised to find no god in the storm, nor in the fire nor in the earthquake but surprisingly in the still quiet voice that followed. I reckon Samuel was surprised that it was not Eli that called him in the still of the night and that he should rather answer the voice of God if he heard it again.

Does this mean that we have domesticated God and he is no longer awesome? Or does it mean that God has “left the building” and we have been left god-less by a disinterested God? Could it be that God might well be still surprising people unexpectedly but because we do not expect God to be engaging, we have lowered our expectations?

I believe that if we journey closely after Jesus we will be surprised. Even it we never come across deus ex machina (miraculous divine intervention) type experiences. It appears that John the Baptiser had no miraculous saving of his life when he lost his head. He was hugely surprised, nonetheless, by Jesus asking to be baptised by him as he had fully expected Jesus to act 100% the opposite. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers (at least sometimes) probably had one of his biggest surprises when Jesus forgave him and reaffirmed him despite Peter’s woeful forsaking Jesus in the latter’s hour of need. The disciples (including Peter) were astounded (despite following Jesus for years) when Jesus washed their feet like a servant in stead of expecting them to wash his feet. Most of the crowds following Jesus would have been gobsmacked when Jesus included many from the people from “the others”, the excluded ones, like Roman soldiers, a bleeding woman, a whoring young upstart who wasted the family name and fortunes, the hated Samaritans and tax collectors – to name just a few.

I invite you here at the start of 2020 to ask God to open your eyes for some 20:20 vision clarity of who God is and what God is about. The best way to get insight into, understanding of and be challenged by God is to look deep into the being of Jesus – the ultimate embodiment of the God of the ages.

The internationally used lectionary this year follows the Gospel of Matthew.

Have a read at it. Closely. Often. And be surprised.

 Rev Alan Childs


Each week the minister shares a Thought for the Week.

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