Advent is a season of expectation. We prepare for and anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The expectation is part of what makes Christmas a special holiday.

What about Sunday worship? Do you have a sense of anticipation for Sunday worship? When you come to church, what do you expect? Quite often in life, we only see what we expect to see. If you come to church not expecting anything in particular, that is often all you will get. On the other hand, if you come to church expecting something, you just might find what you are looking for.

I want to offer you five things to expect when you come to church on Sunday.


Life can be hard. Life can be painful. Even when it’s not difficult or painful, just the realization of the uncertainty of life can bring with it a low-level constant anxiety. If you need comfort, come to church expecting comfort. David writes in Psalm 23, “Even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” You can expect your restless or anxious spirit to find comfort at church.


Jesus told his disciples that their love for one another would be the way the world would recognize them. Human connection is vital, and you can expect to find connection at church. Oh, sure. Some people might be goofy, or distracted, or even ornery — but there is a lot of love at Redeemer, even from the goofy, distracted, and ornery people. If you expect connection (without needing conformity) you will find it at church among the loving followers of Jesus.


Jesus did promise us a rose garden. But, even more, he never promised to protect our feelings or our self-image. Jesus communicates to us with grace and truth. Sometimes that truth is challenging to what we believe, the way we treat other people, or the way we look at life in general. The one thing you can trust is that if Jesus challenges your thoughts, words, or actions, he is challenging you because he loves you and wants the best for you. Expect church to be challenging sometimes.


Psalm 119:105 celebrates the idea that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Life can be pretty confusing sometimes. And we all need to keep growing spiritually. Come to church expecting guidance for your life. It might be in the sermon, readings, prayers, hymns, or just in your moment with God during the Lord’s Supper. But God’s guidance is there. Expect it.


More than anything, you can expect Jesus to show up. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) The expectations I listed above are there to give you some concrete things to think about. I don’t know what you need on any given Sunday, but Jesus does. Go to church expecting Jesus to show up. He promised he will be there and he always keeps his promises.