New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

Expecting the Unexpected

An Advent Devotional Guide

Blair Gilmer Meeks • July 2006

BUY Print $14.99

A high unemployment rate, tensions and wars around the world, soaring gas prices, job stress…Are today's anxieties shrinking your Christmas spirit, your sense of joy, your purpose, your song?

This Advent, expect the unexpected.

Reconnect with the Christmas story, the arrival of Christ's biblical message of hope and healing for this world.

Expecting the Unexpected is a spiritual feast for the mind and imagination. Use it each day of the four-week Advent season. Open it and find:

  • vivid day-by-day biblical images and reflections on Jesus' life and message
  • small-group discussion themes and prayers
  • a featured weekly Christmas hymn by Charles Wesley, whose lyrics ("Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and others) witness to a faith of gusto and courage

"I often wonder how we can decorate our tree, haul out the nativity set, sing 'Away in a Manger' once or twice, pack it all away again, and think we have celebrated Christmas adequately," writes Meeks. "The season holds so much more for us…God's work through Jesus Christ only begins in the manger. Our joy in God's gift of Jesus to us should be part of our lives every day."

With Meeks as your companion and guide, reclaim excitement and refreshment. Expect Christ's reign in your life—today.

Categories: Advent, Devotional
Blair Gilmer Meeks writes and lectures in the areas of worship and preaching. From 1991 - 1998 she was editor of Liturgy, the quarterly journal of The Liturgical Conference and associate editor of Homily Service, a monthly ecumenical journal for preachers. Meeks also served as an acting coach in the chancel drama program at the Center for Arts and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary, and a teacher in adult education programs.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-1004-3

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: July 2006

Trim Size: 5.5 in (w) x 8.25 in (h) x in (d)

Page Count: 128

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Holidays / Christmas & Advent

BISAC1: REL034020

BISAC2: REL055010

BISAC3: REL006000

"In Expecting the Unexpected, Blair Meeks has given us profound yet gentle insights into the many dimensions of Advent. Through the beauty of the written prayers, the clarity and simplicity of the study structure, and the astute reflections on the Advent texts, she provides substantive material for an individual or a group to experience Advent in new and unexpected ways. She lifts up the sense in which Advent, like an intense white light holding all other colors within it, embraces every aspect of Christ’s ministry and person. And she never loses sight of the practical implications of Advent for our own Christlike actions in our world. What a gift this book is, for Advent, Christmas, or any season!
— Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki Professor Emerita, Claremont School of Theology

"If you feel trapped by a romanticized Christmas gospel, Blair Meeks’s invitation to expect the unexpected is your escape hatch. But beware! You will likely never observe Advent or celebrate Christmas 'like the ones you used to know.' She doesn’t do all of the work for you. She simply gives you markers and turns you over to the Holy Spirit and surprise!

"In Expecting the Unexpected, Blair Meeks shows us how to weave the church year, hymnody, the central narratives of scripture, and a reading of our contemporary social context to enable us to encounter Jesus beyond our cultural captivity. Next Advent, I’ll be leading a group using this study.

Expecting the Unexpected is a finely tuned and nuanced approach to reflecting on Advent and Christmas. More than a Bible study, it is a daily trek for your imagination and a call to engagement with Jesus in light of the full range of scripture and five familiar Charles Wesley hymns.

"For pastors and congregations who recognize that their preaching and worship during Advent and at Christmas have become stagnant and predictable, this study will crack open your imaginations and expectations. Say good-bye to sentimental pablum and get ready to chew!

"Expecting the Unexpected is deeper than our usual devotional reading of Christmas and more than a lectionary study of seasonal texts. This study, designed for small groups or individuals, invites readers to imaginatively reflect on a feast of scripture texts using familiar Charles Wesley hymns as interpretive lenses for the weeks of Advent and the Christmas octave.

"This is a solidly constructive approach to doing theology as doxology and in ways that all of God’s people can appreciate.

"Expecting the Unexpected is sure to stretch readers’ thinking to the wide and deep sweep of scripture and contemporary cultural analysis.

"By inviting readers to connect to a widest range of biblical texts, Blair Meeks guides us to startlingly deeper awareness of Advent and Christmas with practical effect in shaping our discipleship.

"A ringing call for recovery of the fullness of our hope in Christ and a pathway to our exodus from the dimmed expectations of acculturated Christianity.

"Solid and accessible. Pierces the veil of minimalist Advent and a romanticized Christmas. Invite your whole congregation to form small groups and study this book.
— Daniel Benedict Writer and Consultant, Worship and Liturgy Former director of Worship Resources, General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church