#GreatExpectations is the reflection for April 5, 2015. Encountering disappointment is common.  What does three women walking to anoint a dead body have to do with our disappointment? What does God do with rejection of him and his ways?  Find out in “Great Expectations”, the podcast for this week, Easter Sunday.  Available on itunes and android.   #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Resurrection, #Transformation #WhatYouGetMayBeBetterThanYouExpected

For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   4/5/2015 Easter Sunday.

 Please pause this audio and read Mark 16:1-8.

          What you get may just be better than what you expected.

          When I brought home my daughters replacement phone, there wasn’t much excitement. As I often do, I purchased the “pay as you go phone”, replaced the simcard with one that was compatible with our mobile phone plan and voila, for $50, my daughter had a smart phone and everyone was happy right? Well, not exactly.

          The smart phone I chose uses the Windows operating system. For anyone who knows, most teens do NOT want the Windows operating system on their smart phones because there are not as many apps for it, it is different and considered not quite a chic as the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy. My daughter’s best friend has an android Galaxy phone.

          One day, while they were talking on their phones with each other, her friend said, “hey, I have to call you back because my mother is texting me and I can’t do that at the same time I am talking with you on the phone.” “Really?” said Ruth, my daughter, “I can do both at the same time. You mean, your fancy schmancy $400 smartphone can’t do what my humble little $50 smart phone can do?” “Good bye,” was the only answer.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          Unlike other Easter stories, the best and most reliable manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end at verse 8. That is rather abrupt and there are no appearances of Jesus to the disciples. All we have is a story of women who head to the tomb to anoint a dead body. As a courtesy, a love gesture, these women want to fix what three days later had to be delayed because of the beginning of the Sabbath. Out of their love and devotion for the man, Jesus, who had been condemned and killed by the world, they come early in the morning when no one else will likely be around. They carry with them a huge amount of oil and spices to cover the stench of a dead body to provide the customary anointing for burial. It is a kindness that might be compared to providing for a convicted death row inmate whose whole family has deserted him at death.

          On their way, they discuss who will roll away the stone for them because it was a huge stone to ensure that no one would rob the grave. They expect death. What they got was something much different.

          The women encounter a tomb that has the stone moved away. Inside they are greeted by an angel who has to calm them down. He then tells them that the death they had expected to meet has been transformed. Jesus is not there to be embalmed; he has risen and will meet them. Death has been transformed into life.  God has triumphed over the corrupt government. God has triumphed over the corrupt church. God has triumphed over the betrayal of friends. God has brought heaven here on earth. Jesus has been raised from the dead.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          If you have observed Holy Week, we walk with Jesus along the road of friendship on Holy Thursday. He gives us himself in the meal and invites us to follow him. What happens? His friends desert him when the authorities come.

          We have been privy to the inner workings of the Church. There is jealousy that is out to destroy Jesus’ life, his career. They incite a riot and trump up witnesses against Jesus painted as a rival. The leaders of the chosen people driven are afraid that this just may be the Messiah that they are waiting for. What? The people, even the whole world, is following after him.

          The government is an institution ordained by God to ensure justice, peace and equality. The government knows that the charges against Jesus are false. Mark’s Gospel says it explicitly, “Pilate knew they charged him because they were jealous.” The governor knew false charges were brought up against a human being. But, for convenience and political favor, a human life is condemned to death.

          The people, friends, the Church, the government, all of them desert God and his ways. All of them condemn his Messiah to death. What is God’s answer? His answer is new life.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          In the economic downturn, many of my friends were approaching their fifties. They lost their jobs. They were the first ones to be let go to save money. Many were forced to follow dreams, start non-profits, become consultants, and what did they find? They found that they liked their new boss. What was pain is now opportunity. Death of one life is now a new life.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          To those who love the Lord, walking through the deepest darkest valleys of life often leads to greener pastures and still waters. To those who come to do acts of kindness and love to the Lord who has seemingly let them down on Good Friday are greeted with an Easter celebration beyond their wildest dreams.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          Maybe the reason we encounter such low expectations is because the God that we serve is greater than that which can be thought. He is more than we expect. It is not that God cannot, it is that we do not. We do not trust. We do not believe. We do not act with courage. The God we serve can overcome any obstacle, but it may not be the way we think it should be done.

          God’s actions do not remove us from hateful actions by people close to us, people who are supposed to be righteous and people who are supposed to act justly and protect us. We will still be spit on. We will still be ridiculed. We will still be whipped. We will still face down hard times, but God comes back at us with a way. There may be a peace within that we never had before. There may be a sense of who we are and whose we are that we never knew. There may be an opportunity where every avenue seemed closed because the Lord opened our eyes to a new pathway.

          What you get just may be better than what you expected.

          To those of us who know pain, know loss, know hurt and rejection, like Jesus did last Friday, there is an Easter, a resurrection from our deadness because the God we serve is more than what we expected. Is there something in your life that is not right? Is there a great disappointment you carry with you? Is there something that is bothering you? Do you not have the job you want? The life you want? The time you want? Maybe it is because you came expecting God to be dead and sealed in the tomb.

          What if you approached your situation openly?

Lord, whatever. Lord, whenever. Lord, wherever. Remove my expectations and wants from the equation. Give me what I need, when I need it, how I need it and where I need it. You need to drop the burial supplies and greet the empty tomb as proof that in the weeks to come, Jesus is going to reveal himself to you. Open up and look for Christ in life instead of the end result you want out of life.

What you get just may be better than what you expected. Amen.

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