Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient
as you wait for the coming of the Lord.
Consider the farmer who waits patiently
for the coming of rain in the fall and spring,
looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth.
You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve,
because the coming of the Lord is near.
James 5.7-8, CEB
Waiting can be tough. Waiting in long lines at the grocery. Waiting with an impatient young child. Waiting for an exciting celebration. Waiting at the bedside of a loved one who is transitioning from this life to the next. Waiting for news from medical tests. Waiting for the grades to come out after a big test. Waiting…..
In Advent, we say we are waiting for the Christ Child to be born. Of course, this waiting is a metaphor because the Christ is with us even as we wait for the Christmas celebration. Still, the practice of waiting is good for our souls. We are a culture of instant gratification. So much is at our fingertips in this age of technology – information, goods and services, connection with loved ones through phone, text, and internet. It is good to be still and wait like a seed the farmer has sowed in the ground waiting for spring or fall rains. In the waiting we put down roots into the soil of our faith, not knowing what will come to fruition.
Mary said yes to the angel from God and then waited in the unknown mystery that is pregnancy for the birth of Jesus. Waiting in the unknown is part of our faith. It may feel like doubt or like God is not listening or like we are all alone. We acknowledge these feelings. They are real, but they do not get the final say. The final say is the love of God made manifest in our hearts, even in the waiting. The final say is the love of God incarnated in the Christ Child who announced to us as a man that God’s realm is among us always!
The institutional church is in a big waiting period after the changes of the pandemic. Each and every church that I know of or read about is “waiting” to see what is coming next in programming, mission and service, fellowship, worship, financial stability and staffing. The church as the Body of Christ is in a period of pregnant waiting with all the changes and pains and delights and discovery that pregnancy brings to a human body. At Plymouth we are very lucky to be welcoming new people, growing our programming with children and youth, developing new ways to be together in worship, re-inventing beloved fellowship and formation opportunities, looking towards the promise of a new settled associate minister. We are blessed!
And our blessings need the nourishment, the investment of our time, talents and treasures in the work of God through our ministries. We need to feed the soil holding the seeds of possibility in our Plymouth Body of Christ that are pregnant with new life and growing in ways we cannot yet see.
So, in this time of Advent waiting, I ask you to be still with the seed-like promises of God. How will you nurture these promises and answer their call? Answering the call to service through the ministries of our Body of Christ is nurturing the promise. Answering the call to pledge your financial resources to the work of God in the world through Plymouth’s ministries is nurturing the promise. (And our Stewardship and Budget and Finance teams are waiting for you to answer this call so we can put together a healthy budget for 2023. It takes us all to do this. It takes the village.) Answering the call to the Spirit of God deep within your heart and soul, a call to deeper relationship or new ways of living in God’s realm, is nurturing the seed-life promises of God.
With you in the waiting! Let’s see together how God’s promises unfold in the new year.