If I’ve heard it once this week, I’ve heard it a hundred times, “Why is it taking so long?”
You may assume that this bleak bleat was prompted by the current protracted ballot count, but we are waiting for more than an end to our electoral angst.
Why is it taking so long—to get my covid test back?
Why is it taking so long—for the doctor to get back to me?
Why is it taking so long—to get my air travel refund?
Why is it taking so long—to hear back from that job interview?
Why is it taking so long—for people to take the pandemic seriously?
Why is it taking so long—for my school to decide about in-person learning?
Why is it taking so long—(fill in the blank)?
If life was an Olympic competition, our worst event would be Patient Waiting. Not only would we never medal in that event, we would get booed out of the pool. But Patient Waiting is exactly the skill that is required of us, in every aspect of our lives. I fear we are failing.
The biblical equivalent of our pathetic pleading is this: How long, O Lord? And we hear it in each of Sunday’s texts.
Amos channels God’s frustration with corrupt and selfish religious practice: “How long do I have to wait for you to do it MY way? To let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5.18-24)
Paul comforts early Christians, anxious about the eternal disposition of those who had died before Jesus’ return: “We do not want you to grieve as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18)
Jesus, only chapters before his whole world comes crashing down, warns his disciples, “Keep awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25.1-13)
These dark lectionary warnings are prompted, not by pandemic or politics, but by the looming end of the church year. (Christ the King Sunday is November 22; Advent opens on November 29.) Should we consider it odd or comforting or eerily prescient that since ancient times, the future for God’s people—and the whole universe—has been dimly lit?
We continue to gather as best we can, to follow as faithfully as we can, even when so much conspires against our gathering and our following. Please join us Sunday for live zoom worship at 10 a.m., and remain afterward for our November Vitality Talk. Because even though no one can answer the question, “Why is it taking so long?” we are confident that when we are in one another’s company, the waiting is neither frightening nor fatal.
Like you, I am wearing out the “refresh” button on my laptop, eager for news of election results at every level of government. As we wait for the answer to “Why is it taking so long . . . ?” I invite you to consider the words of our synod bishop, Yehiel Curry, in yesterday’s missive to the Metropolitan Synod of Chicago:
Siblings in Christ, will we be the church who is able to shatter the red and blue walls that divide us? Will we transcend parties and powers that polarize, demonize, and distort our perception of one another? And will we do this for the sake of Christ’s mission—a feast for the hungry and a world where prisoners are set free? Will we do this, or will we remain captive to the same spirit that is tearing the world apart? (You can read the whole text here: http://eepurl.com/hh5dp5)
In these waning days of the church year and a political cycle, we wait together for the answer to our perennial questions, “Why is it taking so long?” And, as Paul advised in 1 Thessalonians, we comfort one another with these words, “God knows.”
Honored to be (not so patiently) waiting with you,
Pastor JoAnn A. Post