Wait N Faith

Mark 13: 1-8    Rev. Dr. Galen E. Russell III

1 Samuel 1: 4-20              November 18, 2018

“… I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

Prayer:  With gratitude we come to you, O God, because your steadfast love endures forever.  We pour out ourselves to you in faith.  Amen.

It’s Thanksgiving!  Christmas is only five weeks away!  That’s unbelievable!  It will be here before we know it!  We get to prepare all over again for the birth of Jesus Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think that the way much of our society lives and acts, you wonder if Christ was born at all!  I don’t know if I can wait until Christmas for us to celebrate Christ’s birth!  Let Jesus be born again NOW!  Please be born in this toxic political environment.  Come, Lord Jesus!  We need your birth in the ongoing rash of mass shootings.  Come Lord Jesus.  Please be born into the lives of those suffering from the fires.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Be born in those abused or shamed or harmed.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Come!

Like Hannah, in the face of huge struggles, seemingly insurmountable odds, long, long, long periods of waiting, we pour out our souls before God.  Like Hannah, such circumstances may seem to be permanent.  Like Hannah, in faith, we wait.  With tears and prayers for a healthier world, in faith, we wait.  With hopes for new birth of God’s life in the middle of our lives, in faith, we wait.

Because just when you think that something’s permanent, turns out, with God, it isn’t.  Hannah’s feelings of insignificance and physical infertility ended up being temporary.  Jesus bursts the disciple’s bubble when he says that even though the temple has been there in Jerusalem for a thousand years, it will not be so permanently.  Even though the disciple’s wanted Jesus to become the Messiah, the Anointed One, to take his place as the new king at that very temple, Jesus says, Nope.  The center of God’s work in him will not be in Jerusalem, but it will be in the human heart.  And, it will be not a work that is done once but is done again and again.

It is sad to say, but more and more, we’re getting used to our societal problems.  Some things just keep happening over and over in our society that we become more and more desensitized to their severity each day.  Jesus’ words show us that, unfortunately, war, natural disasters, and anguish of all sorts have occurred before.  Mass shootings happen again and again.  They’re becoming the norm.  They are nothing new.

But, what is new, is us!  We are new!  In Christ, each one of us is made new.  We are the change agents!  With faith and hope, we cling to the idea that our situations, our struggles, our toxicity are not permanent.  God IS born in us NOW, and I believe God wants us to pour out our souls to God.  We place our deepest faith and trust in God and the plans God laid—plans for our individual lives, plans for our church, our society—plans that are for good and not destruction.

But, in the waiting, we are very active.  Because faith in God is always tried in life.  Life’s circumstances always create opportunities for faith to become real.  We engage in life that reflects the life God wants us to live.

I encourage us to have faith that God is bringing something to birth, even in the midst of difficult or challenging circumstances.  God likely does not cause all these, but I do believe that God’s purpose in every circumstance is to see that faith can grows in us.

Today is our congregational meeting.  We have several agenda items that are challenging.  We will wrestle with an unbalanced Ministry Spending plan.  We will discuss whether or not to replace our HVAC system.  We will discern the cause for justice in creation.  Let’s pour out our souls to God about each one of these items, difficult as they might be.  Because these make our faith real.  God is birthing something new in our ministry.  Our faith in God for each of them is necessary.

And beyond today’s agenda we have challenging ministry and mission projects that will likely be on a future agenda for us as a congregation.  We’re exploring what it means to be an All-Inclusive Church.  One part of that exploration includes finding out what it means to be an Open and Affirming church that officially welcomes people who are under-represented in our society.  Another part of that exploration means addressing how our building and facility can be made accessible to all in every area—downstairs, upstairs, outside—everywhere.

As scripture says, “We know that all things work together for good.”  That means that no matter what happens,
God’s providence transfigures our faith into reality.  So, we pour our souls out before the Lord—in faith.  And we actively wait, practicing our faith into reality, believing that God is birthing in us a new vision of ministry.  We believe that God hears our prayers, does not abandon us, but strengthens us as we stand on the firm foundation made in Christ.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.