Surprises come in many forms and guises. Some good, some borderline amazing, some awful, some tragic, some hilarious. But there's one thing we can usually say – surprises aren't boring.
The first Christmas contained many surprises, starting with the surprise that took place when an angel by the name of Gabriel appeared to a young woman by the name of Mary.
Mary was obviously surprised by the angel. Wouldn't you be? This surprising visit from the Lord was not what Mary was expecting or seeking in her life. It's not likely that an angel is going to appear to you to announce some great thing that God wants you to do but God often surprises us in other ways.
God's surprises come at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. And Christmas is a prime time for surprises. Some of the surprises are wonderful:
- an unexpected gift
- an unanticipated opportunity
- a renewed friendship
- great news hidden in a Christmas card.
Some surprises are painful:
- having to let go of someone we love
- a sudden change of plans
- an illness or other trying circumstance made more difficult by the contrast of celebration around you
- bad news from friends you only hear from once a year.
Perhaps the greatest surprise at Christmas is the declaration that God loves us. Remember the first words to Mary: ‘Greetings to you who are highly loved’. They may have been the most surprising words of all. God has given his gift and some of us are tempted to toss it aside and to walk away.
Who knows, maybe God's surprises in your life will change the world. And if not the world, they will certainly change you.
This is not only my final newsletter article for 2021, but also my final one for Carey as I leave to take up my new position at Camberwell Grammar School in 2022. I have been a part of the Carey family since the 1970s, so walking away on my last day will indeed be emotional. I have absolutely loved my time of ministry as Junior School Chaplain and thank God for the many ways He has blessed me and sustained me for the past 16 years. May I take this opportunity to offer all Carey families my gratitude for your support and encouragement, for allowing me to journey alongside you, for your generosity, and warmth. Please be assured that I pray for you all to know Shalom – the deepest peace and sense of wellbeing. I pray for a blessed and peaceful Christmas. That we may all share in the songs of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds and the worship of the wise men. For hark the Herald angels indeed still do sing ‘Glory to the newborn King!’
Janine de Paiva
Junior School Chaplain