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United Church of Christ

November 27, 2011

Christmas is a Surprise Party

Mark 13:32-35 

"About that day or hour no one knows… Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come."

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

In a way it is unfortunate that we always celebrate Christmas on the same day of the year, because that makes the coming of Christ seem almost predictable.  But Christmas is more like a surprise party. 

For centuries God's people awaited the coming of the Promised One.  Then, when it happened, most people missed it.  They were watching the ceremonial gates and he snuck in the servant's entrance.

God is always slipping into town when we least expect it, and where we least expect, as well, even in the darkest time of year, in a forgotten corner, as a baby with milk on its breath.

Although December 25 is fixed on the calendar, we never know when the Spirit of Christ will be born in our midst.  Our task is to live with an air of expectation because it could be any time, even today, and anywhere, even here.

A friend tells about asking a group what keeps them coming to church.  Someone responded, "It's strange, I know, but I get the feeling here, like nowhere else, that something is about to happen."

What a great description, particularly this time of year.  We gather around the expectation that something is about to happen.  And we may even be able to affirm that it's Jesus, the Spirit of Christ, that is about to happen.  But we don't know when.  We don't know where.  We don't know how.  So we wait with bated breath, and our souls atingle, for the surprise party to begin.


God, keep me awake, by whatever means necessary, so that I won't miss your surprise party when it begins. Amen.

Martin Copenhaver

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

This Year Will Be Different - 2011 Advent Devotionals from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.  Order now! 

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