Jesus’ life, from beginning to end, was beyond unexpected. Who knew that God would send his only son to be born in a manger? Who would have thought that this Messiah, this King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Counselor and Prince of Peace would live such a humble life and end up dying on a cross? Who could have guessed that the Savior would live as a servant and be resurrected? Who imagined that salvation would come to everyone who accepts Jesus as his or her savior?

The more I think about Jesus’ life, the more I am in awe of how vast God’s love is toward us. God continues to show us ways to live in this world that are different than anything we ever expected. He reminds us that Jesus, this “Unexpected Messiah,” is the living God who is with us right now, here on earth.

Earlier this year, I was asked a question: “What is your most memorable Christmas and why?” At the time, I answered something simple, without much meaning, but the question stuck around in my head for a while.

When I was looking for this year’s Christmas cantata theme, Revelation chapters 4-5 caught my attention. This passage gives a vivid description of God’s throne in heaven and the people who worship around it. It got me thinking about true worship and who or what we really worship for. I wanted to create a cantata that would reflect the true meaning of Christmas and provide a meaningful answer for the question “What is your most memorable Christmas?”

Like most everyone else, I love the silly Christmas traditions that give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. I love old Christmas carols, apple cinnamon candles, beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, sweets, Christmas cards and giftsyou name it. But this year, I need to stop focusing on that Christmas feeling and spend more time thinking about the “reason for the season”: Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus to me? Am I living as if I believe in Jesus? These are the questions I am asking myself for Christmas.

This year’s cantata will be a worship service full of adoration, praise, proclamation, confession and offering to the Messiah. It will send you forth full of inspiration to be the light of the world as God told us to be. And in the midst of difficult news around the world, it will remind us of the “Unexpected Messiah” who is with us always.

This Christmas, I pray that we all get to worship the Messiah not by seeking out that warm, fuzzy feeling but by truly embracing the Holy Spirit and celebrating Jesus’ unexpected life so that we can not only glorify him but also be empowered by his presence to become living examples of Christ in the world. I pray that people who are broken, lost, hurt and humbled can join us to experience the mystery of God’s love and grace through Jesus Christ who came to us to be healed, saved, freed and lifted up.

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