All the earth is waiting, to see the Promised One,
And open furrows await the seed of God.
All the world bound and suffering seeks true liberty,
It cries out for justice, and searches for the truth.
(Hymn from Spanish 'Toda la Tierra'. VU#
The character of the kind of waiting in which we are presently engaged is more properly a longing. Longing is a waiting with the deeply poignant features of ache, desire, loss, and risk, and in my coming reflections I'll delve a bit into each of these. Longing is the thoroughly Biblical form of waiting to which we are invited in the season of a Advent, invited to consider the precariousness and dreaming of the people who waited for a messiah, and to watch for the places where that old story now meets our stories.
Longing has a skill. The skill in longing is the fervency of imagination. To picture and anticipate how it will be when the longed for day comes. The Hebrew prophet most associated with this season is Isaiah, who 600 years before Jesus expressed the character of the time when God would act for the beloved community, a time we have come to connect to him. Listen for the specific act of imagination from the prophet who addressed a people kept away from their homes and their relatives, to keep hope alive. Not in abstract language but in particular imaginative scenes to which they could connect.
"On this mountain the Lord of hosts will prepare a banquet for all the peoples, a feast of aged wine, of choice meat..."
I can picture and taste it. Who will be there on such a day? I can imagine loved ones, hear their voices and laughter - the living and the dead. How good it will be to see them! I can smell the bouquet of the wine, heady and intoxicating, and the meat sizzles on the grill, inviting us to 'taste and see that God is good'.
What is it you need to be imagining right now? There is no magic here, and no unrealistic promises, just the witness of ancestors in faith to believe that in the specifics of our day to day, things and people we hold close, we can continue believing that on a day to come all shall be well.
Following his years as minister at Rosedale United Church, Doug directed a cancer support retreat centre, and has now fully retired in the Algonquin Highlands, kept busy finishing the home he and Heather have built there. You can email him at [email protected]