Holy Waiting

“Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms,
and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting.
He is not in such a hurry as we are,
and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need
for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time.
When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God.
When action is needed,
light will come.”

― J.I. Packer

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty,
to carry within oneself the unanswered question,
lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

Elisabeth Elliot

ahfykc6dl0rl3g5wqyxs
(The Holiness of God surrounded by Seraphim /Illuminated manuscript / Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

“Our world is shaking, about to erupt.
Demonic powers are storming the church, like autumn storms sweeping through the woods.
We live in a tine when people everywhere are agitated;
the masses are confused as to what is true and what is false;
and yet they are waiting for what is ultimately to come.
And it shall come!

We live in the midst of tyranny, encircled on all sides, seemingly unfree.
But let us lift our heads high; the hour of our liberation is drawing near.
Now we must be strong in the hope that God will reveal his redemption;
he who is coming will take away everything that is part of our fallen nature.”

In holy waiting we’re at home,
The windows open to the sun,
Though shades are spreading o’er us.
With joy expectant hearts are fed;
Till now hope’s flaming light has led
And brightly burned before us.

Eberhard Arnold
In Holy Waiting

When the Time Was Filled
Christmas Meditations
Plough House Publishing

Trinity

“Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man,
and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.”

John Wesley

g70033-09a
(Illuminated manuscript of the Trinity/ The British Library)

“The incarnate one is the glorified God:
‘The Word was made flesh and we beheld his glory.’
God glorifies himself in man.
That is the ultimate secret of the Trinity.
The humanity is now taken up into the Trinity.
Not from all eternity, but ‘from now on even unto eternity;’
the trinitarian God is seen as the incarnate one.
The glorification of God in the flesh is now at the same time,
the glorification of man,
who shall have life through eternity with the trinitarian God…
God remains the incarnate one even in the Last Judgement.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Certainty tolerates no limitation”

Hodie nobis caelorum Rex de virgine nasci dignatus est,
ut hominem perditum ad regna caelestia revocaret,
gaudet exercitus angelorum,
quia salus eterna humano …

(Today the King of heaven deigned to be born for us of a virgin,
that he might call lost man back to the heavenly kingdom,
the host of angels rejoices,
because eternal salvation has appeared to the human race.)

1014
(Northern Italian antiphonal illuminated manuscript with text of song above / 15th century )

Whoever lives in God does not look behind him, but forward.
Whoever is alive (whoever does not fall prey to deathly atrophy of his inner life)
does not look backward—
be it over the short span of his own life or the greater span of history–
to find a realization of his longing.
He looks forward,
toward the goal,
toward the destiny of humanity as it should be and as it shall be.
He who puts his hand to the plow looks forward.
He lives “now” in the future.
He who looks back and loses himself
in historical speculation and his own inner reveries is not fit for God’s kingdom.

Advent hope is certainty of faith that shows itself in action through mutual
responsibility for the whole of life.
The church of Christ is the fellowship of this hope.
It believes so unreservedly that it is convinced that the divine must conquer the demonic,
that love must conquer hate, that the all-embracing must conquer the isolated.
Certainty tolerates no limitation.
God embraces everything.
When we trust in him for the future, we trust for the present.
When we have faith in him, our faith holds true for everything that touches our lives.

Eberhard Arnold
When the Time Was Fulfilled
Christmas Meditations
Plough Publishing House

mysteries

“that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love,
and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding,
resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself”

Colossians 2:2

The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew…
I saw all things in God,
and God in all things.

Mechtild of Magdeburg

beb646cd2a15da04d522e8c45617a284
(annunciation from The Book of Hours/ also known as the Black Hours due to the process of first layering the vellum with carbon / 1470 / Bruges, Belgium)

We are a people of mystery who in turn love a mystery…
The stuff of which puts one sitting on the edge of one’s seat…
nail biting and gripping.

The strange and often unexplainable,
yet which,
is always nicely and neatly revealed and eventually solved in the end.

Solved…
as in understood
as in light has been shed,
as in understanding has been gained…

Resulting in…
satisfaction and fulfilment.

Yet how to understand that which is not understandable?
How to solve that which is unsolvable?

The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”

Simple enough…

An angel,
an ethereal being,
an otherworldly being…
that which is beyond us…

Strange,
Intriguing,
and Unexplainable…

But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”

Presented, most matter of factly, is the unexplainable…
as curiosity is piqued.

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel,
“since I am a virgin?

As the strange and the unexplainable is neatly revealed.

The angel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age,
and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.
For no word from God will ever fail.”

Nail biting.
Intriguing.
Exciting.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.
“May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Then the angel left her.

The mystery,
the intriguing
the gripping,
the unexplainable….

Revealed…

Explained…

As in solved…
as in understanding is gleaned…

Leading to inviting acceptance…

In turn leading to satisfaction…
as in light has been shed…

And soon…
fulfillment is satisfactorily achieved…
for all involved….

And so it is….

(Luke 1:26-38)

wilderness

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:1

c9b8cebbb38f7c89437efd9681c8b02e
(Dutch Book of Hours / mid 15th century/ The Masters of the Delft Grisailles/ John the Baptist / Walters Art Museum)

Woe to an age when the voices of those who cry in the wilderness have fallen silent, out-shouted by the noise of the day or outlawed or swallowed up in the intoxication of progress, or smothered and growing fainter for fear and cowardice. The devastation of our time will soon be so terrifying and universal that the word “wilderness” will readily slip off our tongues.
This is already happening.

For how shall we hear unless someone cries out above the tumult, the destruction, and delusion?
Alfred Delp

Trembling joy

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

(Hymn Imortal, Ivisible
Welsh Melody 1839 John Roberts / Lyrics Walter C. Smith 1876

1460francesco_di_giorgio_martini_illumination
(Birth of Jesus, Francesco di Giorgio Martini 1460)

So far we have been reminded that we have entered a new season.
A season of waiting and watching.

And somehow, somewhere within our trepidation of the arrival of this unknown,
we sense that as we wait and watch, we are to remain hopeful…
Because curiously we are inwardly reassured that what we are waiting for
and watching for…
is good.

And not only is it to be good,
it is to be actually grand.
As in life changing, world altering…
GRAND.

And almost within the same breath of waiting and watching,
we are reminded that what we wait for and watch for
is actually something quite intimate.
Something dear and something even tenderly precious.

Perplexed we wonder, how can this trepidation, which is so full of anticipation
and perceived to be not only good but Grand,
how can it be sweetly intimate, tender and close…?

So many good Christians are dumbfounded or tremble in fear when something of Christ’s
future is told to them.

As Christoph Blumhardt notes in his essay The Wise Men’s Star…

If we would only look forward to the Last Day with a trembling joy, as the Savior said:
“When these things begin to take place,
stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption
is drawing near (Luke 21:28)

But now, when people hear of it, they are afraid and shake and tremble.
They fail to rejoice in the reality that redemption is drawing near.

And so we are left to we wait,
and watch…
Watching and waiting for a most intimate moment…
Yet we are now told to be ready…
Ready to rejoice…
While at the same time, being filled with
trembling joy…

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zachariah 9:9

Waiting and arrivals

“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life”
Simone Weil

boucicaut-meister
(Illuminated manuscript from the Book of Hours, the Annunciation 1410)

We have entered a new season within our faith…
Those seasonal cycles of the Church.
For we have now entered the season of waiting…
Otherwise known as Advent.
Taken from the Greek word, parousia, meaning arrival.

As in we are waiting for an arrival.

Yet do we not seem to spend our lives waiting?

Waiting on things to take place, to happen, to hurry up, to change, to come or to go….

However Father Henri Nouwen, in his essay Waiting For God, reminds us that
“for many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go.
And people do not like such a place.
They want to get out of it by doing something.”

So waiting seems to be something we are relegated to suffer.

But Father Nouwen continues…
“Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state
determined by events totally out of our hands.”

“But there is none this passivity in scripture.
Those who are waiting are waiting very actively.”

“Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction
that somethings happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
A waitng person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.”

“A waiting person is a patient person.

The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and to live the situation
out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and
therefore want to go elsewhere.

“Waiting, then is not passive.”

“To wait open-endedly is an enormous attitude toward life.”

So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that
God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear.
The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment,
trusting that new things will happen to us,
new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.

“That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

And so we begin to wait…
actively and radically waiting….

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5:7-8

(Father Henri Nouwen’s words taken from Watch for the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas
/ Plough Publishing House