MORE THOUGHTS 15
These could have been titled “Final Thoughts” as I come to the end of my time with the Presbytery, but that would not be a good title. We should never stop thinking and reflecting on the journey of faith, on pausing before God.
In this time of challenge that we find ourselves in again, it could be easy to use the words that so dominate our lives just now. However, it is important to find different ways of reframing what is swirling around us and to focus of another vocabulary. This is a time when we are slowed down, and that is not easy for many of us. Whether or not we would normally be rushing around, there can be few of us who are not aware of how the world seems to have speeded up: that there is always the next thing to be done, even if it is just a phone call to be made. Life can seem full of deadlines. This time right now is a time of waiting: waiting to see what is going to emerge in the next few days; waiting to see what will be possible next week or the week after. Yet waiting is also an invitation to focus, not just on what might lie ahead, but on how we are in the present moment and how we might see God with us in Christ and in the ceaseless, often gentle activity of the Spirit in and around us. Waiting is a learning time if we allow it to be. Waiting is one of many words that call us back to the roots of our faith. It is a word, a situation perhaps, that connects us to the experiences of people throughout time. We hear of these in our Scriptures as we read of the intense struggles people faced millennia ago. In Lamentations, we read of the feelings of grief and loss of the exiled Israelites who had lost their homes, their livelihoods, their country, their Temple. But we also read words that affirm God’s great love and compassion that is renewed every morning. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Right now, we might ponder how we see the Lord and wait quietly. Maybe we will learn a renewed way of being and be enabled to live hopefully for the sake of others.
There are many people who are forced into terrible times of waiting: for justice, for safety, for the basic necessities of life. We know we are called to care and to act as compassionately as we are able. We also know we can’t change the world. Only God can do that, and does that as people everywhere turn towards love for one another. When we may feel overwhelmed by what we see around us, near and far, we may understand that we are being called back to God and to wait in God’s presence so that we may touch into what sustains us. This is the example that Jesus gave to his followers as he went away by himself to pray and as he gave us all the words: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” We wait, and pray, and wait, and act as God shows us the way. May God guide us all in our waiting.
Here are some of the words of a hymn I wrote a long time ago:
O deepest mystery of God,
You seek us all our days,
Waiting most patiently to show
The wisdom of your ways.
Deep in our hearts we long to fill
That God shaped space within,
But all the efforts of our minds,
Prove but a gesture thin.
Just when we think we've traced your path,
And that we understand,
You move and call us once again,
Into uncharted land.
Yet when the way seems long and hard,
We find Christ's presence there,
Where hungry souls and bodies ask
Us silently to care.