May 12th, 2019
“Wait Upon the Lord”
I spend a lot of my professional life in institutions. Yes, I know many of you think I should be in an institution but that is a conversation for another day. I spend a lot of time here in this church, going out to hospitals, senior residences, nursing homes as well as hospitals and hospices. Now the truth is about these places is that nothing happens to fast. There is a bit of a “hurry , up and wait” aspect to them. Things that are important and a matter of life and death really are happening but it seems to take a long time for it all to come together. Even when I visit, just the nature of these institutions means that I spend some time sitting in the hall, waiting for someone to be available and as I do that – when I am not on my phone – I people watch. While it is true that we are all individuals, it is also true that there are a lot of commonalities to our experiences. This I see very clearly in these institutions as people wait. There is the obvious frustration, there is the look of sometimes fear or resignation and there is the inevitable comings and goings, the walks the standing up and the sitting down that betray people’s stress, uneasiness and discomfort. These institutions are not natural places for us to be and because of this we do not always know how to wait.
Waiting seems to be at the core of our faith. One of the most famous Psalms (27th) entreats us to wait upon the Lord and waiting seems to be a spiritual discipline in and of itself. A spiritual discipline that I must say many of us, including myself, struggle with. That said, it would seem, that one of the things about the Easter season is that we wait upon the Lord. These fifty days between Easter and Pentecost are a time when we dig deeper into who Jesus is and what the resurrection is all about. It is a time of reflection and learning and a time where we are called not so much to action as to reflection. This is a good thing because I think for us as Anglicans we are good at the works. We heed the call to helping the marginalized, we know we are called to social action, we get that we are called to live in a moral and ethical manner. And we do not forget these things during the season of Easter but rather during this season we realize, as well, that we are called to wait upon the Lord and that in doing so we grow closer to God. This waiting upon the Lord I think is something that we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we encounter them in the gospels. One of the underlying messages that we see in the gospels is that the Hebrew people had a hope that God would act, that the messiah would come and they were patient about it. They had been waiting generations for God to fulfil the promises of the prophets to make whole what had broken down. We see this in our gospel as the Jews are in the temple and they just want to know if Jesus is the messiah or not. To which he interestingly responds that he has already told them but he also points out their blinders in seeing what he has said. As if they have waited so long for the messiah that they are actually unable to now know the messiah now that they have met him.
This waiting upon the Lord would seem to fit with that other celebration we have today; Mother’s Day because from what I can tell motherhood is a lot about waiting. One waits for the pregnancy to be over, then for the child to grow up and ultimately for the adult child to call home! All kidding aside, there is a patience which comes from motherhood (parenthood in fact) which speaks to the patience we need to have to find God and to grow closer to Jesus. So I think there is something in this mother’s day celebration which speaks to the frustrations of those who heard Jesus in the synagogue and the sometimes frustrations in our life as we wait upon God and wait upon life itself to unfold.
So today, as we celebrate all that is good about mother’s and give thanks for our mother’s both with us and no longer with us, let us look at the patience that they showed us as a model for what it means to wait upon the Lord and as we do so let us give thanks for all the good that they have shown us.
Thanks be to God. Amen.