Lectionary Passage for Reflection: James 5: 7-10
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! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
OK, I have to admit that I am not the most patient person in the world. (Like THAT’S a big surprise!) So, this whole Advent notion of waiting and waiting some more is almost too much to bear. And don’t you hate it when someone tells you to “be patient”. Grrrr! Look, you just don’t know what all I have going on in my life. You just don’t know how hard that is! (Yeah, I know, that sounds way too familiar for comfort!) And something about this season makes it even harder. We have to hurry up and get the tree up! And then we have to hurry up and get all the shopping done! And then we have to hurry up and get the gifts wrapped! And then we have to hurry to the party and hurry with the cooking and hurry with the hurrying. And, please, please tell us what will happen next so that we can get ready! So, how in the world with all this hurrying are we expected to be patient, to wait for God’s time to be our own.
There is a story that you’ve probably heard of an American traveler on safari in Kenya. He was loaded down with maps, and timetables, and travel agendas. Porters from a local tribe were carrying his cumbersome supplies, luggage, and “essential stuff.” On the first morning, everyone awoke early and traveled fast and went far into the bush. On the second morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far into the bush. On the third morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went even farther into the bush. The American seemed pleased. But on the fourth morning, the porters refused to move. They simply sat by a tree. Their behavior incensed the American. “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what is going on here?” The translator answered, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”
Maybe that’s what this Advent season is–a season of waiting for our souls to catch up. (So why did they put it in the busiest season of the year! That doesn’t make sense!) Whoever wrote this short epistle buried toward the back of the New Testament knew exactly what our problem was. He or she knew that when we get something in our head, when we set our sights on something, we want it immediately if not last night sometime. And so, many of us are running around with bodies and souls that are dangling, disconnected, not quite able to reach other, not able to connect. Stop. Stop what you’re doing. Like the farmer, all that you are is planted and fertilized. Now you have to wait. You have to wait for God’s Spirit in God’s Time to rain in, drenching the thirsty soil. Your soul knows how to wait. There is a Divine Wisdom planted deep within. The soul moves slowly soaking up everything in life. Oh, what our minds and bodies could learn from that! But we have be patient. Sometimes we have to wait. And sometimes we might even have to step back and be led to the next place.
Perhaps rather than living life with the words “hurry up” always on our lips, we should live a life of “Amens”, “so be it”. Life will be what life will be. God knows that this is not easy. There are things that we must finish and there are patches that we want to quickly run through so that we don’t experience the pain or the heartache. God knows that it is hard to wait. It is not God’s will that we suffer or that we have difficulties in life. It is God’s will that we become who God envisioned us to be, that Creation becomes what God meant it to be. It is all there, planted and fertilized. But it takes time. You have to wait. The time is near but it is not yet right. There is still more to come.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing, O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.
Edmund H. Sears, 1849
Reflection: Why are you such a hurry? What are you missing by hurrying through life? What is your soul trying to teach you?
Grace and Peace,