A family was taking a leisurely vacation along the county roads in beautiful southwestern Wisconsin, traveling from one small town to another, taking in all the sights. When they stopped at a local gas station, the driver asked the station attendant, “What are the people like in the next town down the road?” The attendant responded with a question of his own: “ What were the people like in the last town you visited?” “Well, they were quite friendly and hospitable,” the driver said. The attendant replied, “You'll find the people in the next town to be pretty much the same.” And it turned out that he was right.
Now it happened that the next person to drive in to that gas station asked the same attendant the identical question: “What are the people like in the next town down the road?” Again the attendant responded with a question of his own: “What were the people like in the last town you visited?” “Oh,” the driver said with a frown, “They were very unpleasant and unfriendly.” The attendant replied, “You'll find the people in the next town to be pretty much the same.” Once again it turned out the attendant was right.
The attendant was a wise man. He realized that what we expect is typically what we get. We write the script for our lives, just as did the two drivers on the road in southwestern Wisconsin. Expectations are important. They are crucial. Expectations can make us or break us!
Advent is a time of waiting, but not simply waiting. Advent is waiting with expectation! The question is: what are we expecting this Advent? Are we expecting Jesus to be born again in a stable or hospital or apartment or under a starlit sky on a cold night in some remote jungle or mountain village. That already happened 2,000 years ago. Then what are we expecting this Advent? Are we expecting the “end of time,” some cataclysmic event that brings our universe to a sudden, chaotic end? Well, I'm not expecting this, and I doubt that you are.
So if this Advent we are waiting for something to happen, expecting something to happen, what is it? What precisely is this “Thunder in the desert” of which both Isaiah and Mark speak in today's Scripture readings? It is the coming of Jesus – not his first coming as a baby at Bethlehem, not his final coming in glory, but his coming to us now, personally, into our minds and hearts, his coming in this Chapel gathering this morning, his coming in Communion to nourish our spirits. He comes only if he is welcomed. He comes only at our invitation. He does not force his way into our hearts. We, and we alone, make it happen. We write the script for our lives. Make sure that the invitation to welcome Jesus is in our script this Advent. If it isn't, we better start working on a new script, don't you agree?