No one really understood what the Messiah was truly to be. Even Peter who confessed that Jesus was the one promised in the Old Testament, refused to believe that the sacrifice of the cross was necessary and rebuked Jesus when he told him. People, leaders, and everyone had their belief about how God would fulfill the promise, but Jesus did not fit their expectations. How could He be the One who was promised to come and save Israel when He hung, defeated on the cross? Where was the warrior like David? Where was the victory over the Romans? Where was the One everyone expected? Jesus failed to meet their expectations, but His death and sacrifice defeated Sin and Death, something no one expected.
At my first call, I had expectations. Armed with my seminary knowledge and training, I was ready to change the world (or at least my tiny part in my new congregations.) My question was why. Why do we do it that way? Why don’t we try new things? Why are we limited by old habits? The purpose was to fulfill my expectations. Of course, they also had expectations of what I should do as the pastor. There were many times when the various expectations conflicted. I eventually learned that we were asking the wrong question. Like the disciples, it was not my or their expectations but God’s.
In this next year, as the faithful of All Saints Lutheran seek a new pastor, maybe we should ask a different question. Not what we expect of a new pastor nor what that new pastor might expect of us, but what God expects of us. How does what we do best serve Him and the mission of the Gospel entrusted to us. Are we too concerned with what we want or are we focused on how we can best serve Him?
Before we do anything, maybe we should ask the question of what does Jesus expect of us. From the most mundane decision to the lofty spiritual inquiries, is God really first in our hearts and minds? It is not a question of morals or rules, but if Jesus is truly the heart of the ministry of All Saints Lutheran. If He is not first, there will be no need for a new pastor since we will not really be a church. If He is not first in the heart of a new pastor, that one who comes cannot truly serve as the faith leader of the people of God. Where God is in our expectations will determine if we can expect God to be with us as we move forward this year.