Summary: Pentecost 2007 Sermon and Communion Meditation
(1) Last week I shared a quote from Rueben Job that began, ‘Most of us do not wait well.’ He went on to say, ‘Jesus asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promised power to meet all that lay ahead of them as well as an advocate to teach them all that they needed to know.’
He then made a very important observation, ‘It must have been hard to wait. They were under suspicion by the authorities; they wanted to get on with their lives; how did they know that waiting would make any difference? The disciples were obedient to the command of Jesus, though, and their obedience was rewarded with power and a companion.’
10 days have passed since Jesus returned to heaven under the remaining disciple’s overwhelmed and amazed gaze. That’s nearly a week and a half of waiting. It had been 50 days, nearly two months, since the Resurrection had taken place. But they waited in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded them to do as we read in Acts chapter 1. And because they waited they experienced the power of God in their lives like never before.
What is hard for you to wait on? What tests your patience more than anything else?
Is faith worth waiting on and for? Is forgiveness worth waiting on and for? Is hope worth waiting on and for? Is love worth waiting on and for? Is God worth waiting on and for? I believe that they are! As impatient as I am at times, God and all that He offers me is worth waiting on and for.
We don’t know how hard it was for those gathered together to wait although Job makes a very salient point that they were under suspicion and that they wanted to get on with their lives. Waiting then is often a pressure cooker experience.
I remember waiting for my wedding ceremony to begin and I expected that it would start promptly at 6 PM because that was the time it said on the invitation. I was told that you wait for all the guests to be seated before you start. I didn’t care! It was their fault they were late! We were going to start at 6 PM! Well, everyone did get seated on time and we began on time. (I have photographic proof that we started at 6 PM!)
I also remember another time of waiting due to a less, very much less, pleasant experience. It came during middle school when I became the target of the neighborhood bully who loved to give me a daily kick in the seat of the pants.
I dreaded the wait getting on and off of the bus. He was bigger and stronger than I was and I did not want to get into a tangle with him. I don’t remember how long this went on, it seemed forever, but it was probably a couple of weeks, but all of that changed one day when he smarted off on the bus to the biggest kid on the bus who got off at our stop and expressed his displeasure.
I was never bothered again by him. (Maybe it was because I picked up his glasses and gave them to him after everyone had left. But I don’t know.) Sometimes we have waited for things that we dread to hear or experience.
(2) One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 40:31, ’But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ I believe this to be true. I have experienced it in my life and I have seen it happen in the lives of others. I have also experienced the results of impatient waiting and have found that it often creates a bigger mess than patient waiting.
I think of Abraham whose fear of being killed caused him to not wait for God to help but instead put him and his wife in an embarrassing situation as we read in Genesis 12. Gordon MacDonald suggests that Abraham (then called Abram) should have waited on God to provide for them instead of going to Egypt to wait out the famine and getting himself, and his wife, in trouble.
Fear, greed, lust, anger, impatience, you name it, a whole host of things can cause us to lose our place in line forcing us to go to the back. The ‘grass is greener’ myth can also force us to understand why waiting is hard to do.
But the disciples did what Jesus ask them to do, they waited, and waited, and waited… so that they would be empowered to become witnesses filled with a power and an ability not of their own making. Anthony de Mello has written, (3) ‘The Holy Spirit is given to those who watch and pray and wait patiently, those who have the courage to get away from everything and come to grips with themselves and with God in solitude and silence.’