What Are We Waiting For?
(Posted November 10, 2023)
By Rev. Dr. Pat Kriss
“Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully.
To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.” --- Francis of Assisi
If there’s one thing most of us humans are not very good at, it’s waiting. Especially waiting when we’re unsure of what lies ahead. Just think of any time that you’ve taken a trip with a carful of kids, and count the number of times the chant has come from the back seat: “Are we THERE yet?”
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Waiting to Get There
These days are, in fact, the times that we adults are not sure of what lies ahead. Between the horrible wars in Israel and Ukraine, not to mention all the skirmishes and loss of life in obscure places that never make the news, we’re anxious. We’re anxious about the economy, about who will be picked to lead the country in a short while. Dear Lord: We need some hope and some help soon.
Of course, Jesus had the perfect parable to tell us about waiting and desiring hope for the future. It was a story about ten bridesmaids – yes, they used to have lots of bridesmaids in Jesus’ day. All of these women were waiting for the groom to arrive, so they could escort him to the wedding feast, with their oil lamps. However, half of them wisely brought extra oil with them for the wait, and half did not. The end result, when the groom was delayed until after all the bridesmaids had nodded off, was not good. The oil in their lamps was essential for there to be the light of greeting. The story goes on from there, of course.
Hope While We Wait
The moral of the story for all of us who today are waiting for some relief from these anxious days, is the same. Trust in God’s goodness and it will give us HOPE, which is the oil to keep the ember of faith glowing.
But since humans are not good at waiting and trusting, sometimes we will take a scripture passage like the one featured this week. We twist it into something that satisfies our need for answers, but it has nothing to do with the intent of the New Testament writer.
We’ll spend a little time looking at the passage from Paul in First Thessalonians. He was writing about his own time, giving comfort to those who had lost loved ones, that Jesus would save them, and in the end of days, even those who were waiting like him would be lifted by his love into heaven.
Fast forward to the 19th century when an enterprising cleric named John Nelson Darby, who interpreted the passage as the millennium approached, to be a promise that people would be sucked up into heaven when they least expected it. From this creative fiction came the current idea we’ve heard of – the Rapture – where the elect of Christians would be driving along and God would carjack them right out of their Hyundais and Chevys into heaven, while the unworthy and unready would be “left behind.”
Getting There: Where We Find Hope
This was, at least, an infusion of hope for some people, as exclusionary as it was to non-Christians and people grappling with their own unbelief in times of uncertainty. We’ll take a look at where this concept came from, and what can be a real source of hope for us today. Come join us for a dose of hopefulness this Sunday, oil for your lamps, as we conclude our Stewardship Drive as well.