Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
I know Christmas will be over by the time you read this, which you may be sad or relieved about, depending on how it went for you, but I’m writing this in December, and in December, certain things have in recent years become a feature of our national life. One of these things is the phenomenon of the rubbish ‘Winter wonderland’ attractions. No doubt you’ve heard of the kind of thing. A few tatty stalls in a muddy field, a bored, sullen Father Christmas, horrendous car parking charges and a multitude of other disappointments. The complaints pour in about what a rip-off it all is, and how far removed from people’s expectations. I sympathise completely, but this also sets me off thinking about expectations.
The surest recipe for unhappiness, it seems to me, is to have high expectations all the time, because, in a world such as ours, disappointment will inevitably come when reality fails to match our hopes and anticipations. One response is cynicism and expecting the worst all the time and people who choose this route are never fun to be around. A better way, however, is to place your hope in the one place where we won’t be let down and where we are never in danger of disillusionment. Psalm 27 speaks lyrically of what I’m trying to express:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation,
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life,
Of whom shall I be afraid?...
Though my Father and Mother forsake me,
The Lord will take me up….”
Included in the Psalm is a beautiful and heartfelt plea: “One thing have I asked of the Lord… that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.
If your hope is fixed on the things of this world, brittle, changeable and inconstant as they are, you are putting your faith in what will, in the end, forsake you and leave you bereft. Making God the bedrock of your life puts you in a place where, whatever happens to you, you are sure of being held and loved and secure. There is such simplicity and truth in the words I’ve quoted above, truth that many have discovered, and re-discovered for themselves. As the psalmist also says, “Teach us how to live O Lord”.