Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Church was Made for Waiting

(Reflection based on Scripture assigned for today in the Episcopal lectionary.  Written for a booklet of parishioners' meditations published by St. James' Episcopal Church, Marietta, GA.)

2 Peter 3.8  With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 

"You've been waiting a thousand years for the Messiah?  Sorry, you just missed him.  He was here last century."  A groan went up in a waiting room crowded with Hebrew converts to the new faith.   Peter's secretary hastened to add, "But he says he'll be back any day now."  He forced a little smile.  "Of course, for him, a day could be a thousand years, Ha ha.  Just be patient."

Patient?  Me, a 21st - century commuter?  Sometimes, when it takes a thousand seconds to inch along Marietta's 120 Loop, I grow angry to feel the minutes of my afternoon slipping away.   I search the radio for news updates, check the phone for messages, scribble notes on a pad, and try to salvage my wasted time.

Sitting on a rise above the sluggish stream of cars, St. James' reminds me how our church's approach to time sets us blessedly apart from the American mainstream.  Since Ben Franklin, we Americans have equated time with money; every second, like every penny, must be invested in something productive.

But our Episcopal church retains a pre-modern sensibility.  Our time moves at the stately pace of seasons through a cycle of daily personal devotions and weekly gatherings.  We repeat ancient stories, pray quietly, make music, and share meals.   This is the routine developed by the early church to nourish the Body of Christ until the Messiah returned.

Waiting is what the Church was formed to do, not by killing time, but filling time with prayer, learning, service, and relationship.  

Other readings for today:  Psalm 119.1-24. . .12, 13, 14 . . . Amos 3,12-4:5  . . . 2 Pet. 3.1-10 . . . Matt. 21.23-32