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May 27 -- "Don't Lower Expectations; Raise Hope"

Devotion May 20 – “Don’t Lower Expectations, Raise Hope”

A pastor shared this ongoing encounter he had with a cashier at a local gas station: “I almost always buy my gasoline at the same station at the same time during the week. Before the pumps were computerized to accept credit cards, I would give my money to the same attendant. The first time I met this attendant I absentmindedly asked, “How’s it going?” Without looking at me he responded, “Lousy.” It was clear he didn’t want to talk about it, so I just smiled and gave him my money. The next week I asked the same question and he again said, “Lousy.” this went on for months. It became a despairing little liturgy we would repeated every week.’

“Then one day he startled me. As I was accustomed to doing, I asked, “How’s it going?” braced for the usual response. But this time he smiled and exclaimed, “Great!” Astonished, I asked, “So, things are improving?” “Nah,” he responded, “I’m just lowering my expectations.”

During our Easter season we looked at people who were touched by the resurrected Lord. We saw, how often the problem they had to overcome, was not that their expectations were too high, but they were too low!

Mary Magdalene stands at the empty tomb of Jesus crying. When asked why she was crying her response is that the body of Jesus was gone and because of that she couldn’t give him a decent burial. Jesus then shows himself to her alive and well. She then rushes back to the followers of Jesus and tells this great news that neither she or any of them expected: “Jesus has risen from the dead. He is alive!” Her problem on Easter wasn’t that her expectations were too high, they were in fact, too low.

Later on Easter day, Jesus goes on a long walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus with two of his followers. For reasons we don’t know, they weren’t able to see that their visitor was Jesus. Jesus can see how sad they are and he asks them why. Their response, “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.” Later they come to find out that Jesus is. the redeemer of not only Israel, but the entire world! Their expectations too, weren’t too high, they were to low.

We are living through a moment that will never be forgotten in history – this is the first time in human history where a virus has literally shut down the world. Now as things slowly begin to open up again, we are left to deal with all the ramifications of this outbreak. Most of those I talk too are frightened by the future. How will businesses bounce back. How will we deal with the high unemployment rate? Will things ever be “normal” again?

So many questions, and at the moment, not a lot of answers.

But let me challenge you to see “tomorrow” not with low expectations, but with high expectations. How can we as a church help those facing difficult times? How can we as the people of God rise up and bring hope to those hurting and finding themself in a time of darkness. How can we bring back life to our community? Think big, and then even bigger still – let the Jesus who kept showing the disciples that their expectations were too low, teach us not to fall into the same trap

Let our expectations for tomorrow soar, trusting Jesus will meet them ... and then like he always does ... exceed them.

~ Pastor Dan

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