FOCUS ON THE VISION
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! James 5:7-10
The third Sunday in Advent within the Revised Common Lectionary offers a variety of texts that direct the reader to wait. The message of James seems clear and to the point: be patient; strengthen your heart, for the coming of the Lord is near. Stay focused and do not get lost in the trivial grumbling activities between your brothers and sisters.
Stay focused, do not lose my temper, and patiently wait.
Waiting is the last thing we want to do during this season of Advent. There are gifts to purchase, church activities to attend, parties to plan, work agendas to complete, and that quick-stop-turned-forever waiting at Wal-something.
It sounds good on paper, but in the real world we just do not have time to wait.
Or do we?
If we slow down, wait patiently, look and listen carefully, there are sounds the church has tuned out or turned down. The sound of silent screams as violence permeates homes and destroys families, the sound of stark fear as children are abused and neglected, the sound of hunger pains from food insufficiency, the sound of despondency and depression as natural disasters continue to take their toll, and the sound of tears flowing for lost loved ones.
Do you see what I see?
The Advent Season can serve as a powerful reminder to clergy and laity that God is with us. A message many people desperately need to hear today both inside and outside the church.
We can focus on ourselves, the church and its problems, and ignore the world around us. In many cases, this may lead to more grumbling, complaining, and paralyzing, self-focused analysis of the issues.
Soon another year will draw to a close, and we will face the New Year with many of the same challenges. Let’s embrace the mission and vision of the church with an expectant hope that God is at work among us. God can do the impossible!
If we can learn to wait and be more patient in this Christian walk, it may help in the effort to live the vision of making disciples in the church today.
Dear Lord, let it be so …
Rev. Denise Walton serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.