Waiting ... For What?
Advent 2007 Meditation
by Chris Stockwell-Goering
As pastor to the family members of the disappeared * in northern Argentina, I frequently waited with people - at the excavation sites of mass graves, at court, for politicians - listening to the painful memories of what had been done, waiting for justice, waiting for the truth to be brought to light. Decades after the violence and human rights abuse ended, these people, particularly the "Mothers of the Disappeared," are still waiting to know, and to hear someone take responsibility for what happened to their loved ones. I was privileged to wait with these people - to hear their horror and grief, to offer consolation that while the church may have abandoned them, God never had, and never would.
As Christians we are asked to have confidence ("be patient" says James) in God who worked and continues to work through Jesus Christ for a more just society. We know in the end that nothing will keep us from God's love; not environmental disasters, not a mad war in Iraq, not hatred of any of the people of God, not the divisions of family or nation or church or world. Nothing.
James speaks to a people who are suffering at the hands of rich, unjust landowners; today it would be multi-national corporations. And, after urging the unjust to repent, he encourages the oppressed to be patient, but not passive or accepting of what is happening. He issues a call to action - nonviolent action - like the American Civil Rights movement or the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa.
James says: "Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master's Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time." (James 5:7-8, The Message) There is a time for patience and quiet contemplation and there is a time for action, when the rains come. The rains will come - in their own time; our impatience will not cause them to come any faster.
In Argentina it has taken more than 30 years, and now the rain has finally fallen and the perpetrators of the genocide of the 1970s & 1980s are actually coming to trial.
The specific verb used for "to Wait" indicates "self restraint." SO ... What do we do while we wait? Do we numb ourselves with buying more stuff and watching more TV this Advent season? Do we see the excesses of the consumer culture and military power for what they are? Do we remember why we are preparing ourselves?
The Rev. Chris Stockwell-Goering is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church assigned along with his wife, Martha, as Missionary Interpreter in Residence in the Southeast Jurisdiction.
Date posted: Dec 14, 2007