1 Samuel 3:1-10; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; Mark 2:23-3:6
It’s hard, walking around through the world, not to develop some expectations about how things work. An understanding of cause and effect will make many interactions go more smoothly and helps prepare us for our own roles going forward. It’s a lovely and useful capability of our human minds, to take what we’ve already experienced and weave it into a picture of what is likely to come next.
When God enters the picture, however, we need to expect the unexpected. The child Samuel expects that when he hears a voice in the dark, it’s the person in the other room, not the Holy One. Paul tries to temper his friends’ expectations that being beloved of God might make life easier. (It doesn’t.) And Jesus encounters the darker side of human expectations, when those who are deeply invested in playing by the rules want to punish him for reaching beyond the ordered and the ordinary, into the truth of God’s abundance and freedom.
So how can we manage our expectations? I invite us to remember that our understanding and our reason only go so far. In the borderlands of the unexpected and the amazing, we need to open our hearts and our senses. Isaiah said it last week, Samuel says it this week. “Here I am, Lord.” That’s always the right response.
Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.