Waiting . . .

Good morning!  The blue paraments are out as we celebrate the first Sunday of the new Church year, the beginning of Advent.  Blue is my favorite color and I decided to wear my robe so that I could also wear the blue stole, which doesn’t get used very often.  Blue is the color that represents hope.  Hope in the midst of waiting.  Waiting for our coming Messiah.  Hope in the promise that he will return!


   Waiting can be an exhausting exercise for us.  For the kids, we heard examples of the excitement that comes with knowing that good things are coming…things and people that are going to bring joy and make memories.  There are many things that we wait on in excitement.  Family gatherings that will unite members who are not seen regularly.  The pregnancy process awaits a new life.  Engagements fill the air with hope of a new marriage.  New homes, jobs, etc. are all examples of waiting with hope.  Waiting can seem like an eternity!


   But waiting isn’t always a fun process.  There are times when we also wait with anxiety and fear.  We wait for the test results that will impact our future plans, the court rulings that may cause chaos, the harvest after a season of whether changes, and the election process.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the hope of blue.


   During the waiting process, we find ourselves busy with things that will distract us from the waiting.  Because in the waiting we recognize that there are things outside of our control.  No matter how prepared we might think we are, for a window of time we are vulnerable.  Patience is tested and learned.  And when our waiting is complete, whether for the good or the bad (in our personal opinions), the world will not come to an end.  


   Change will occur one way or another and we will adjust, whether we like it or not.  Life will continue and the world will keep turning.


   Living in a sinful world makes the waiting harder.  Last week in Ferguson, we experienced the results of the human desire to generalize and categorize.  We instinctively make discriminatory assumptions based on color of skin, age, gender, occupations, the kind of car someone drives, the clothes someone wears, and on and on. These assumptions lead to fear and unrest.


   Isaiah 64:1 reads, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!”  Save us from this mess that we have brought upon ourselves, Lord!  And yet in our waiting we have the opportunity to grow as people and to share in Christ’s mission of love and mercy.  While we wait for Christ’s return, sometimes we forget that God is already here in Spirit.  We have opportunities to practice our faith by bringing down walls that divide.  In times of difficulty, we can in fact let others see Christ in us.  Let the blue of hope overcome darkness.


   After the ruling in Ferguson, MO, a player for the New Orleans Saints wrote a powerful essay (available in Narthex).  While there isn’t time to share the whole essay, I want to read his final paragraph.


   “I’m ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.  SIN is the reason we rebel against authority.  SIN is the reason we abuse our authority.  SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own.  SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn.  BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind.  One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being.  The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure.  It’s the Gospel.  So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

   The answer to our problems isn’t more laws.  It isn’t tighter security, or trying to control others.  The answer is found in loving and compassionate hearts that seek to overcome injustice through Jesus Christ.  We cannot control anyone but ourselves, so let Christ’s mission begin with our own transformed spirits.  


   During Advent, we emphasize the uncomfortable, uncontrollable wait for Christ’s return.  But we also remember the Gospel message and Jesus’ promise.  “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  It is a reminder that we are loved, forgiven, and that he never leaves us, no matter how long the wait or what the results might be.  Amen.