the unexpected

I know that you were not expecting these daily Advent encouragements to begin until this Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, but this year has been full of the unexpected, and many of life’s greatest blessings come to us in unexpected ways, at unexpected times and through unexpected people and events.

While the entry of the Messiah into earthly existence in human form (the Christmas event) was the ultimate expectation of the people of God in the Old Testament, no-one expected a saviour who would take flesh as a baby born in a cave to an unknown young couple, and whose public ministry would last for only three years before he was (quite unexpectedly) executed as a criminal.

Let’s not miss the significance of this: Jesus comes to us in the unexpected.

I’m reminded of the sub-title of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

My problem is that I plan and programme my days as if my life depended on every detail in my diary. If it’s not in my planner I’m  likely to call it an interruption or distraction.

Yes Jesus meets me in my discipline and my planning, but my achievement of my goals is usually a bit of a let-down, perhaps because more often than not my expectations are limited by my limited plans and dreams.

In the unexpected events, moments and encounters, an-other breaks into my too-often rigid routines. This OTHER is often the presence and action of Jesus, breaking into our lives.

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something…
You certainly usually find something, if you look,
but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
“The Hobbit. An Unexpected Journey”  JRR Tolkien

An Invitation

  • Today, expect to meet Jesus in the unexpected (and even the unwanted) moments and encounters. If you are not sure in the moment if this is Jesus, ask him directly: “Jesus is this you?”  His response will most often be a very clear yes or no.
  • You might like to share the Food for Faith for Advent invitation with others, either by forwarding the Facebook link to anyone who might be interested, or suggest they search “Food For Faith” to sign up to receive daily Advent emails.
  • If you would like to share a comment from your own experience that could be an encouragement to others please do so below.

23 Responses to "the unexpected"
  1. I have just woken up after dreaming I was to give a talk to young people at a careers day. My plan was to tell them that there is a good chance that what they plan to be their career today will not be what they are doing in 20 years. Different opportunities, circumstances and their own personal development will change that. It did for me. So expect the unexpected and have faith that God will guide you down the best path (whether it seems so or not at the time).

  2. This Advent I have an adult grandchild visiting from overseas. She has asked me to talk with her about the meaning of Christmas. She is not baptised and been brought up with no understanding of what Christmas really means. Where she comes from it is ‘happy holidays’ , gifts, food and drink. I know what it means to me and I pray I can share with her in a meaningful way. Please pray for us both and especially that I can ‘do it right’.

      • This grandchild’s visit is ‘unexpected’ and how timely Fr Johns advent reflections. I know I am being given a precious grace filled time to share with her.Come Lord Jesus and be with us

  3. Yes this year certainly has been one of the unexpected, with unexpected gifts as well as the challenges we all endured. One of the unexpected gifts had been Zoom and discovering a whole community of faithful globally who call themselves Inclusive Catholics, We are Church, Future Church, Maria 2.0 (Germany) and many many others, all of them calling for a welcoming inclusive participatory church …. It is truly a discovery of Christ out there in the world -no longer confined within the four walls of our traditional church, churches that were emptied due to Covid-19.
    “Who are you looking for?” … “I am not here” I hear Christ saying. We are called to go out!

  4. I too led a very planned daily life but i have met the unexpected unexpectedly and now i am living in a spinal ward for ever how long it will take
    But now more than ever i know somewhere in my new life
    is Gods many daily gifts to me which will be unexpected

  5. I love advent and christmas and get excited about it just like i did when I was a child.I cant wait mostly because I expect God to come I’m goning to take your advice every day leading up to Christmas strangely I feel convinced by this years covid problem that God is with us
    Maybe easier here in nz than in other places around the world.

  6. Recently, I was notified of a part-time counselling position for four weeks prior to Christmas at a local Secondary State College. I was appointed to the position and as a consequence, I was unexpectedly transformed by the life-changing value of embracing new experiences. My new-found strength and the recognition of in-depth peace within myself is as significant to me as visiting the Christ Child in the stable at Bethlehem.

  7. Good morning Fr John
    Yes a very welcomed invitation receiving your Advent call. Advent is the liturgical season of love and giving (of self) for me. As 2020 has been a harsh year for many, it has brought me personally closer to Christ. I am very grateful. As a grandmother and great grandmother, (staying indoors) this time of solitude has been filled with prayer, of love, peace and respect. Thank you for the gift of – Food for Faith

  8. An unexpected message from FFF and a gentle reminder of how much I have missed getting John’s thoughts and encouragement.

  9. Just delight in the unexpected surprises ! Clicking on FFF this morning a very Blessed unexpected surprise! Thank you very much Fr John. May you receive many yourself!

  10. Today my gift was really unexpected.
    I joined a group during this year and have found them difficult to get to know – seeming distant and unaccepting of my overtures. Today they asked me to join them for coffee after our meeting – i did not see that coming.
    Small, but a gift just the same.

  11. Unexpected but a surprise that Avent is upon us again, I look forward to FFT to keep me focused at this time,
    Thanks
    John

  12. A happy surprise and unexpected FFF reflection to greet us again with thanks Father John .
    It feels exciting to have such lovely and practical reflections during this time of Advent , also reassuring and uplifting spiritually .

  13. Thank You John ! You have given me a wonderful gift today – I wonder now who and what unexpected gift I should have given someone else ? … Jesus is that you ?

  14. Yay!!
    A lovely & unexpected blessing to have an early FFF reflection waiting in my inbox.
    Perfect timing as always…with the added bonus of an advent invitation to pass it on – what a great idea.
    Thanks Fr John

  15. Thank you Father John for this lovely unexpected surprise. I was just speaking with my sister about how much we enjoy advent and after such a year around the world how wonderful if it meant Jesus was coming! You have reminded me that he comes every day in little unexpected ways if we are open to him. Blessings to you and yours.

  16. Thank you Fr John, for resuming these inciteful messages as an aid for our Advent to Christmastide preparations. I continue to use your Examen/ Compline one. God bless. With appreciation,

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