Thursday, December 25, 2008

Waiting Expectantly

This week's scriptures are Isaiah 52:1-13 and Luke 2:22-40.

UCC minister Ozzie Smith, in a sermon on this Lukan passage tells the story that Harriette Tubman was know to wait in railroad stations without a schedule or knowing when the trains would be running. When asked about this, she is said to have replied that she knew the train would be coming. She trusted that the tracks had been laid and the station built for a reason.

Simeon and Anna trusted. They waited. And because they waited they saw what they had been promised.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve service. It was a worship service about a promise. The promise that this baby was the Messiah; that his coming was going to be the thing that brought in the Kingdom of God.

Now this is an interesting promise because it's both a "here now" and an "it's coming" promise. We're promised some things in 'end times' language: God will speak the last word and that last word will be rooted in God's love for God's and me included. It's also "here and now" language. We're told that "the kingdom of God is within you" and that this kingdom is here, now among us.

Both of these promises require a particular kind of faith. It is the faith of Simeon and Anna. It is the faith of Harriette Tubman. The faith to look and see that the track has been the train that the track was built to run on will come. The promise made to Simeon and Anna will be kept; and they will see God's glory revealed.

Sometimes it's hard to have the eyes to see the track though. We have difficulty believing that this isn't some mirage...what Marx referred to as "the opiate of the people." A figment of our imagination meant to pull our attention away from the difficulties that surround us. But what we find is that when we trust, when we have faith that the train really is running, we also find that we move toward, not away, from the pain and the trouble. Not because we are some kind of spiritual masochist, but because we trust that in moving, in trust, toward the places of need and pain in the world and in our lives, we are moving toward the healing that has been promised.

The tinsel may fade. The lights may seem to have dimmed. But the promise...the promise is as fresh today as when it was made to Isaiah...was made flesh in the birth of Jesus...and breaks into our world on a daily basis.

Simeon believed. Anna believed. You and I are called to believe. Like Tubman waiting for a train we trust and live and wait for the glory of God to break through.

Merry Christmas.


Anonymous said...

I'm late reading this, but I like the quote from Tubman. It's matter-of-fact poignancy made me chuckle. I don't think I know the story of Simeon and Anna though; I'll have to look it up. Hope you had a good service!

Anonymous said...

It sure sounded like a good as well as thoughtful time was had! I'm wondering about the time of waiting and how to deal with it in a healthy way...seems like that is a long process in itself!

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