Waiting…

I am waiting for the subway,
to take me to the church office.
On this snowy December morning,
I am waiting for springtime
and sunshine
to return to the earth.

I am waiting,
for the unemployed in my community,
to get back to work.
Waiting for New York City
to fix our broken school system.
Waiting for the gaps,
between this group and that group,
to disappear…
or at least narrow.
Waiting,
to exhale.

I am waiting,
for the arc of the universe,
which bends towards justice,
to bend faster.
I am waiting,
waiting on the world to change.
I am waiting,
waiting on a Savior
to come,
who is Christ the Lord.

 train-station-waiting-room

New Yorkers spend a lot of time waiting, and I would say we’re both good and bad at it. Pretty good when it comes to waiting on outstanding food at fine restaurants; terrible when it comes to waiting on fast food at the local bodega.

Christians spend a lot of time waiting too, and I would say we’re both good and bad at it. Good when it comes to the 2000+ years we’ve been waiting on the return of the Messiah; less good with waiting on the day to day flashes of light that signify the tangible Christ in our midst.

John the Baptist reminds us that in the waiting there are preparations to be made that will change the world and our understandings of the world. Preparation that makes the waiting joyful anticipation rather than interminable anguish. Preparation that makes the waiting a meditation, a dance with the holy, a comfort. “Prepare the way of The Lord!” John proclaims, “Get ready or God will get the rocks ready!” Our preparations for the One who is to come have power to change us and our world. I am waiting on the world to change. I am preparing.

My family and I were late for work and school the morning of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. My husband and I thought it important to share the profundity of that particular life with our daughter. I found it theologically tasty to reflect on the life of a man who turned his waiting into preparation. While not a self-identified Christian, Mandela knew something about waiting, and for 27 imprisoned years he prepared himself in hope, peace, joy, and love for the Advent that would spell freedom and liberation for his people and nation. I am waiting on liberation. I am preparing.

Heaven is crashing into the world. The hope of generations is near. The one we’ve been waiting for…that vulnerable baby King, is on the way. We are waiting and preparing. We are ready to change the world.

Advent Prayer for Peace
inspired by the complex life of Nelson Mandela

Teach us the rhythm of peace, O God – the tempo that bops, the harmony that soothes, the counterpoint that changes the world.

Teach us the texture of peace, O God – the bumpy rough that reminds us that beginnings are tough but necessary, the prickly sharps that signal the need for loving community, the cool silky that says together we can change the world.

Teach us the temperature of peace, O God – the sweaty steamy that drenches our determined brow, the icy frosty that resists what your will says shall be, the soft breezy that says the world is changing.

Teach us the taste of peace, O God – the salty tangy that confesses the work is grueling and not glamorous, the sweet bitter that swallows the both and-ness of freedom fighting, the clean fresh that slakes our thirst with life giving water to change this world.

God of peace and peace-making, God of freedom and freedom fighters, God of complexity, simplicity, and mystery, help us to hold peace in our hearts. Help us to hold peace in our families. Help us to hold peace in our lives, peace that changes the world.

Aluta continua – the struggle, and the wait, for peace continues.
Amen.

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3 thoughts on “Waiting…

  1. Bravo! What a fantastic piece of reflective and devotional writing Adriene! Thank you! I love how your poem at the beginning takes us from the mundane of your daily activity, waiting for the subway, to waiting on the world to change in ways that only God can fully bring about. I think it helps us better see the juxtaposition of both New Yorkers and Christians excelling at waiting on the grandiose (whether it be the 5 star restaurant or the eschaton) and sometimes floundering waiting at the local bodega or to see God in our daily lives.

    I also appreciate the timely connection you made to the passing of Nelson Mandela, complex life indeed. The first time I ever heard his name was as a disgruntled youth listening to Ice – T’s Prepared to Die in 1991. So much has changed for me since then. But one thing has not: the analogous relationship I see between my participation in the Hip Hop community and in the church. Both have thrown a good deal of materialism, misogyny and homophobia into my ears over the years. But both at their best have preached a subversive message of freedom and liberation that undermines even their ugliest most broken moments and points to Heaven crashing into the world! Come Lord Jesus!

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