Tuesday, December 22, 2009

waiting, engaging in mystery

below you'll find a guest post by this week's homilist at my church community. i thought it especially cool that we have a pregnant homilist on the 4th Sunday of Advent and i was blown away by her words as they reached to me in varying areas of my life.
Gabrielle Plenart is one of our youth leaders in our community and she and her husband have been extremely valuable additions to our mix. they add joy and energy to their ministry and we are the grateful recipients of the blessings they create among us.
without further ado, here's Gabrielle Plenart. she didn't title her submission so i've taken the liberty for her. hope you don't mind Gabrielle.

I hate waiting. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for my computer to start up. Waiting for my birthday. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for my baby. In fact, I often do more than one thing at a time so that while I wait for one thing I can work on the other. In market terms I’m considered very productive. And it is because of my dislike for waiting that advent has always been a difficult time for me to relate to. I dislike the asymmetry of the advent wreath as we wait for all the candles to be lit. I get frustrated with the song O come O come Immanuel- I really just want Immanuel to be here. And I don’t think I’m alone. Although most people probably have a higher patience level than I, I don’t think we are taught that waiting is a good thing. Being in stores lately has shown that people are generally very annoyed by waiting. And so the advent season, which is pivotally centered around waiting, begs the question- is waiting a valuable activity? Is it useful in any way to wait?
Madleine L’Engle writes that“If Mary had been full of reason, she would have had no room for the child.” Full of reason is where I often find myself. And often, I must admit, without room for Jesus as a baby. Jesus the healer, the teacher, the saviour, the peace bringer, the radical- yes. But Jesus as a baby?
The mystery of Jesus as a baby forces me to stop and to think. Is there something to be learnt from Jesus as an infant? Babies are in utero for a long time. And then, I’m told it feels like forever before they learn to sleep on their own. And to sit up. And to walk. And talk. Growing up takes a long time. So then why did Jesus come to earth as a baby? Why did Mary and Joseph have to wait for Jesus to grow up before they could see his salvific work? That is the mystery of incarnation. Jesus came as an infant because he was fully human. And as humans, we wait. The process, or the journey of growing up is one of value.
Waiting, in a sense, is engaging in mystery. And when we wait, we hope. Because waiting is, quite literally, an act of hope in what is to come. Waiting and faith, are, for Christians, one and the same. When wait, we believe in what we are waiting for, and we allow ourselves the time to place value in what is to come. Waiting is not passive, but actively preparing ourselves for what is coming.
We wait for many things. We wait for peace, we wait for environmental sustainability. We wait for change, and for justice. We wait for wars to end and for hunger to stop. And waiting engages us in our own reality. Waiting for death gives us time to think about our lives. Waiting for change forces us to examine what is hard about the present. John the Baptist waited for Jesus by preparing the way. Jesus waited to begin his ministry in the desert. The barrenness of the desert became a place of preparation, out of which life grew. The places where we wait become places of life. Waiting is not passive- it is engaging with creation. Waiting is not the opposite of productivity. It is choosing to place value in the process.
Productivity is a cultural phenomenon- we consume because we cannot wait. Our food system injects animals with hormones because we cannot wait for them to grow naturally. We rely on gasoline to get us places because we do not have the time to walk. We update our old electronics to their newer models because we don’t have time to wait for them to work slowly. And often I think we succeed in telling ourselves that we do not need to wait, that we are entitled to our speed.
Yet all of creation waits. We have seasons where our land does not produce. We have darkness every night, and we must wait for the light. In the summer we wait for vegetables to ripen, we wait for babies to be born. The natural world waits. And waiting ensures the balance of life. It is the sin of our instant gratification, our dislike for the desert, our disinterest in mystery that has brought us to a place of cynicism and consumption.
And yet every year, when the land is frozen and the nights are long, we are reminded that waiting, hope, and faith are one. Waiting, or having faith, in not passive, but rather active belief in the good that is to come. When we wait, we are. We wait for the saviour, year after year, and in our waiting we begin to notice. We notice the people around us, the situations around us, the hurt around us. And we begin to see signs of God’s ever presence, markings of heaven on earth. We wait, we hope, and when we look around at our world, each other, at babies, we see that God is with us. Amen.

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