Last Sunday we gathered around the table as we do, there was laughter & while some were missing we welcomed someone new to the table — even introducing ourselves following the opening prayer.
And after all this we checked in…offering our own interpretations of Matt. 24:1-14 and/or talking about how we prepare for the breaking in of God (in the unexpected) during this season of Advent.
We heard summaries in our own words, comments about how all the things have come to pass, some recognition that even today we expect God to come to us & the world in a certain way — even though the birth of Christ uncomfortably reminds us that the picture of saving grace came into the world as a vulnerable child who lived the ordinary & ridiculous that we each experience as well. The conversation named more questions and more spaces for where God can bring deeper understanding & revelation — like if heaven is the same as paradise. We even (if memory serves) mentioned again context, translation, and interpretation — the understanding that scripture was written in context (by God’s grace) & had meaning & significance then — and still does now, although our context & our understanding & our language is different than when the Word of God was first penned.
And then we turned to listen to scripture — we opened up to James 5:7-10 (though we heard verse 11 as well):
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!New International Version
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
And there was nearly immediate (after the silence of course) responses. Groanings — a bit of a visceral reaction to the invitation to “Be patient.” There was an immediate naming of how farmers aren’t really all that patient, always wanting their crop to come up. Yet there was push-back too, that while the farmer might be anxious they have an understanding of the seasons & how the growth does have to happen in it’s time — perhaps a recognition that there is work for the farmer & work for the crop — but the crop cannot do the farmer’s work no more than the farmer can do the crop’s work.
IT WAS GREAT! (Yes, perhaps because I imagined not all would like the passage) — but more because the fact that we reacted as we did also means we are listening, means we are understanding & wresting with scripture, means that we are not just on “autopilot,” means that we take seriously that God speaks to us through scripture, that God still speaks today, and that our faith is something that we live out — is something that requires (something) of us (not, to be mistaken with the idea that we earn our new life in Christ — because we don’t, life in Christ is a gift that we are invited through grace to receive & live!) — but as we lived as a people claimed by God — it means that we also are actively growing as disciples of Christ. All good things, and easy to say/write, but harder to live — this we all understand I think.
Thus, we arrived at a delightful and self-reflective home/lifework assignment for the week:
- 1st: Answer, “Are you (a) patient (person)? Why or why not?”
- 2nd: Find what scripture says about patience (anywhere).
- 3rd: IF you feel led/convicted by the Holy Spirit as you learn & listen to what scripture has to say about patience — what is something (an action step) you can do to develop your patience “muscle”? (Or to grow into greater Christ-like-ness?)
Looking forward to gathering round the table next y’all & hearing what was discovered.
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater