Archive for the ‘Waiting’ Category

All Things Come and Go

December 14, 2020

Seven Things Mindful People Do:

  1. Practice being curious
  2. Forgive themselves
  3. Hold their emotions lightly
  4. Practice compassion
  5. Make peace with imperfection
  6. Embrace vulnerability
  7. Understand all things come and go

Abraham Lincoln, in a speech before he was elected president, said, “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Perhaps we should meditate on two phrases–“chastening in the hour of pride” and “consoling in the depths of affliction”.

I have not written much about the pandemic, mostly because, what can I say that isn’t already said? Except that most things I read fall into one of two camps–scare us about how many deaths, or ignore it and it will go away.

This is not the first pandemic humans have weathered. It will not be the last. Nor is it the deadliest. But it is real. Some people withdraw as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus; some people act as if it’s nothing to worry about. I used to think those attitudes fell along political lines. But it is more personal than that.

I read about a General who was a prisoner of war during the VietNam war for many years. He said that those who made it through were optimistic in the long term. Those who didn’t were the ones who set a date–we’ll be home for Christmas, oops, we’ll be home for Easter, oops, we’ll be home for 4th of July, and so forth.

This pandemic will pass. One way or another. I am optimistic–for the long term. And we’ll forget about it–mostly. Then someday another will spread. Humans will still populate the planet.

And God, the creative source of life, will remain the point of stability in a changing world.

TS Eliot described that in his poem Burnt Norton from the Four Quartets:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, 

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where the past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

TS Eliot, Burnt Norton

The Coming of Jesus

December 17, 2015

Christmas is only one week away. I have to admit that so far, other than the tree in our living room, the last two weeks have seemed much like any other weeks except that I’ve been home for most of the time.

It’s advent. We celebrate Jesus’ coming.

The romantics work up sentimental feelings of kids, anticipation of presents and Santa, snow and warm fires, food and family.

Churches put a few Christmas carols in their worship. Maybe light an advent candle. Have a children’s program. Maybe a choir cantata if it’s a traditional church.

We’ll read the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke along with the prophecies.

What we really need to do is project ourselves in contemplation back to the time. Anticipation of something changing, maybe God returning to the Temple, had been building for a hundred years.

Expectations. Simeon and Anna had hung out at the Temple for most of their lives. God had told them that someone special was coming. Every day. Visiting the Temple. Watching. Every person who came. Every baby to be dedicated. Who would be the one? When would he come?

Then one day a baby came. Quietly. They spotted the family and came over to them. He is the one. Finally. We can die in peace. God told us, and he didn’t lie. There he was. They knew.

Jesus came. Many followed him. They tried to do the things he asked of them.Today, many of us still follow him–or try to. We’re glad he came. He showed us how to live.

Even so, with the commercialization, hype, desires for things–not to mention the lack of peace in the world, these things impinge on my consciousness.

Maybe we need him to come again.

Have Patience It Builds Endurance

March 26, 2015

Sometimes when you’re in your car and you’re on an expressway where you expect to be going at a rate of 75 miles per hour and you find yourself stopped, you have a decision to make.

Monday an early spring snow squall sped across west central Ohio. During the time I was in the coffee shop, about an inch of snow fell. I thought nothing of it. We’ve been driving in snow for more than three months. 

I got on the nearby expressway, Interstate 75, heading north for a quick 10 mile trip to a little tavern, the Inn Between, for a meeting of the executive committee of the soccer referee association. The total trip should have been 10 minutes.

Less than a minute after passing an exit, I rounded a curve and saw brake lights. Uh-oh, but too late to make the exit. That was just before  6 pm. I arrived at the Inn Between at 8:05. Seems someone slowed down when the snow came through and the person behind didn’t. 20 cars smashed together later, the road was closed.

Sometimes when you’re stopped, you’re stopped. You might as well adjust your thinking to the new reality. I’m not going 75. I’m going 0. Then maybe 5. Then 0.

I learned long ago navigating Chicago rush hour traffic. You might as well find some good music and settle in. It’s your decision how to handle the new reality. I’m going to Germany and Hungary next month. I had decided to brush up my German language skills. Have an app on my iPhone. Did 5 lessons while I was waiting Monday evening.

Search for patience in the New Testament. You must have some patience while you wait for the results–there are many. Patience is a fruit of the spirit. Paul counsels us many times. James tells us patience builds endurance so that we can be in the race for the long haul.

Patience is your decision. You can adjust your mind to the fact that you just have to wait. Or, you can decide to be frustrated, angry, bitter. As for me, I have learned (most of the time) to choose patience.

Do The Same Thing, Expect Different Results

December 11, 2014

Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
Definition of insanity

A couple of people, maybe more, have entered my life over the past couple of years. They are not encountering the kind of success that they wish for. Yet, they don’t want to change what they are doing.

I sit in my chair reading Scripture and meditating in the morning. The Christmas tree is lit. It’s the same tree as the last many years. It’s a beautifully decorated tree (thanks to my wife, not me). And I’m meditating on why don’t I feel the “Christmas spirit” around me?

Some people are putting up lights. But as I go to the store and hang out at Starbucks, I hear little of “Merry Christmas.”

The economy is good, overall. Yet, people don’t seem as joyful as I remember in the past. Church seems to be going through the motions of the same stuff. Routine.

Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

We need the assurances of traditions (watching “Christmas Vacation” which we have not even done yet this year!), yet we need to bring in new traditions. New ways of building the anticipation.

We know the end of the story. But every story has a beginning. This one is how God revealed himself to the world. A bigger story than Moses. That story led to the Law–which didn’t work. This story leads to the resurrection. That changed everything. We have no Advent without resurrection.

For some reason, I’m in two small groups studying Romans. I’m afraid I might start speaking Latin again. Why Romans? “By faith you are saved through grace.”

Part of this faith is reliving the amazing way that God revealed himself to the world. Totally unexpected. Well, many people were praying and watching for the glory of the Lord to appear. They just didn’t expect the type of Messiah that Jesus was. But it was all so amazing.

Maybe spreading that joy begins with each of us! Merry Christmas.

My Eyes Have Seen The Glory

December 10, 2014

“for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke 2

When did old people cease being wise? Or did they?

Simeon was an old guy. He was devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was one of the group of Jews at the time who longed for God to reveal His glory just like He did to Moses and Joshua, just like His glory filled the Temple that Solomon built.

My bet is that he went up to the Temple (which was not filled with the glory of God) daily to pray and watch.

One day he saw that for which he’d been waiting his entire life. Joseph and Mary brought a baby to the Temple for dedication, since he was the firstborn son.

He said he could now die in peace for he had finally seen the salvation, the glory of God.

Through Jesus, the Jewish hope of the glory of God visiting them again was fulfilled. Through Jesus, Gentiles who probably never had heard of the One God, YHWH, who was the creator of the universe, would now see that God.

Today, as in every generation since, we grow up hoping for the glory and salvation of God to visit us.

In Advent, we re-create the waiting of Simeon. Hoping to see the coming of that light, that glory of God. This re-creating of images and stories is how we learn and experience God. Old people are often the bearers of those stories. Listen to them.

Finding One In Which To Trust

December 8, 2014

I was “acting secretary” for a meeting yesterday as the committee was considering revision of several policies. There was a proposed revision. The committee discussed the proposal and achieved consensus.

The changes written in a Microsoft Word document were saved to one of those USB data sticks. Sometimes called “thumb drives,” these ubiquitous little devices are used for storing and sharing data.

I saved everything on the stick. Removed it and put it in my computer so that I could clean up the draft and prepare for publishing on our Website.

My computer didn’t recognize a drive. Jeff’s computer didn’t recognize the drive. Ken’s computer didn’t recognize the drive. The drive had failed.

We trusted that little thing. It failed us at a crucial moment.

There were two aged prophets at the time we label as about 3 BCE. Simeon and Anna hung out at the Temple in Jerusalem.

You see, at that time God (YHWH) had not revealed himself in the Temple that Herod built like he had in the Temple that Solomon built.

Simeon and Anna…well, they were waiting to see God reveal himself again like he had in those days some 1,000 years before. They were convinced that God had told them that they would see His glory before they died.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At the time appointed by the Law several days later, Joseph and Mary took the baby to the Temple to be dedicated. Simeon and Anna saw the baby independently.

They each said that now they had seen the glory of the Lord revealed in that baby and now they could die in peace.

God could be trusted. Even after all those years. He chose Jesus as the way He would reveal Himself and His glory to the world.

God can still be trusted. He’s not a cheap data stick. He still works.

That’s part of Advent. Waiting to see the Glory of God revealed. That’s what we celebrate.

PS. By the way, I returned home and recreated the changes. I am a reporter by profession. It’s my job to remember important things. But there are people (well a wife) who remind me that my memory is not perfect like God 😉

Prepare for the Coming of the King

December 10, 2011

In the ancient Middle East when the King decided to visit a village, he would send a messenger to tell the people. The people of the village would then begin intense preparations for the visit. They would make sure that the road into the village was smooth, clear, free of potholes. They would beautify their Main Street. They wanted the King’s visit to be perfect.

When John the Baptist began his ministry, he found his mission in Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” John was the messenger. His message to all the people was the King is coming—obviously meaning God’s Chosen One, the Messiah.

John, still quoting from Isaiah, says, “Make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hill shall be made low.” That means the road for God’s visit is everywhere—and everywhere preparations should be made for the visit. “And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.” All the people in all the villages need to go out and do a massive road building project to prepare the way of the Lord.

This is an unlimited message. John (quoting Isaiah) says, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The people who heard John would have understood. They might not have agreed—after all, many other prophets had come proclaiming stuff that never happened. Isaiah wrote those words hundreds of years earlier.

Many did hear, understand and changed their lives. They prepared their hearts and lives for the coming of the Lord. And the world changed.

The Spiritual Power of Waiting

September 2, 2011

I was contemplating on the word waiting this morning. At the beginning of the book of Acts of the Apostles, Jesus tells his followers to wait in Jerusalem because special things are going to happen.

The culture we’ve developed over the past 50 years or so places little value on waiting. Young people don’t want to wait (and gain experience) before becoming CEO. Heck, people don’t even want to wait on a meal or the satisfaction of a desire for something. I want mine and I want it now (I think I’ve heard a pop song to that effect).

It’s not without experience and wisdom that the proverb exists–good things come to those who wait. Of course, you wait with expectation. Watching like the wise bridesmaids in the parable.

And the followers waited–but they didn’t just sit around wondering. They prayed. The first two chapters of Acts notes several times that the followers (there were more than the 11) were in prayer together. So, praying and waiting. And when Jesus said special things would happen, they did.

Pentecost day came. Suddenly the followers, especially the apostles, felt tremendous power within them. Power that they’d always seen in Jesus. Power that they depended on Jesus for. Now they had it. They could feel it. Jesus told them to witness to the ends of the earth. Well, people from the ends of the earth were in Jerusalem for the Passover and Pentecost feast days.

The apostles wanted to witness. From the power within them, they were able to talk to every passerby in their own language. Luke lists several. This was crazy. These guys probably knew Aramaic, Greek and Latin. How could they know all those other languages? The power of the Holy Spirit, of course.

They waited, they prayed, when the time was ripe, they became powerful. 3,000 people became believers that day. And the church began with power.

Anticipation of God

April 12, 2011

When I was young, I played on a baseball team. I have memories of summer rains on game days when it would rain all day and I’d be inside and wishing I were out. The memories returned yesterday. It rained all day. I seldom have the time or opportunity to play golf anymore. But I’d been invited to sub in a local league.

I thought about waiting and anticipation. Remember waiting for Easter in anticipation of large family dinners, dressing up, candy, more candy? I’d forgotten.

We know the end of the story–that there is an Easter. When our teacher and pioneer in the faith actually died and then returned. He was more than teacher, but he was really the pioneer for us.

The first followers didn’t know the end of the story. For them, the waiting was over. The game was cancelled. It was only rain. They didn’t know what was next. The anticipation was probably more akin to dread. It was only a few days. But any who were able to keep emotionally stable in that time were not human.

From the joyous entry only a few days ago to the sudden secret arrest, quick trial and execution. It all happened so fast. Humans cannot digest all those emotional swings and combine them with the final week of teaching that rapidly. It takes time.

But then news trickled in. First then grave was empty. Then reports of sightings. Then there he was. I bet those first Christians awoke every day of the rest of their lives anticipating relationship with Jesus. I wonder how many of us do.