Last week I had to buy more white t-shirts. My existing supply had been around for almost a decade, and I had began to notice I had about as much hole as shirt. Despite the fact they were giving up the ghost after a long and well-worn life, I was far from happy about having to buy more. I had irrationally expected those shirts to last forever, to do the job I needed them to do indefinitely. They did not. So, grumbling all the while, I bought another pack of cheap t-shirts to last me the next 8-10 years.
All too frequently, what we expect does not match reality. No shirt can last forever. No child will be perfect. The test will either be easier or harder than you thought. The new job won't be everything you signed up for. Expectations don't always match reality, and that can sometimes prove a hard pill to swallow.
Sometimes, though, it all depends on our own effort. If we expect to win the race, we'd better train. If we expect a healthy marriage, we'd better love our spouse well. This is all true for church, too: if we expect to have a great worship service, we'd better show up physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We'd better participate: sing loudly, pray with your whole heart, focus on the sermon, respect the service of Holy Communion. More than anything, though, we should expect God to be among us. Our hearts and souls must be receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit within us as we sit in our pews. But we should never expect church to be business as usual; no, we need to expect God to do something new each and every week.
Do we? Do we truly come to church each week expecting a blessing, expecting an encounter with a risen Lord, a loving God? If we do, if we truly come ready to praise our Savior, then we can always expect the reality to far exceed our expectations.