Wait. Not something we like to do. We are insta-gratification, get-'er-done kind of folk. And yet in a time when we feel much powerlessness and constraint, it is something we all can and must do.
Wait. Wait on God. Wait for the curve to flatten. Wait for a vaccine. Wait for the death toll to stop climbing. Wait for gatherings, community, shared meals, travel and all the previous freedoms we enjoyed in our pre-corona-existence.
Of all the invitations to wait, waiting on God seems to be front and center. The longer this quarantine continues, the greater my need and dependency grows on the presence of God to sustain me. This is hard. There is no way around that. We are all experiencing losses now compounded over time. To be clear, as Coronavirus deaths have reached 100,000 in the U.S. in just over four months, we are experiencing a collective trauma. And so we must be gentle with ourselves. We are exhausted. We are tired. We are spent.
Aside from the overwhelming grief and constraint, we simply are not receiving what we are used to receiving in community. A touch, a smile, a look of understanding, the synergy of a room, a warm embrace, the delight of a shared meal, the feeling that it's gonna be okay because we're all in this together. Instead, we are having to settle for Zoom screens and phone calls and we are giving everything we've got to be present and to stay connected. And it's good and we're trying and doing the best we can. But it's not the same. And so we find ourselves depleted and worn down. All the energy expended bouncing against the walls of our screens and little being transmitted across the digital waves. So in a time of much giving and depletion, we've got the figure out ways in which we can receive.
And this is why we are committed to practices of presence, present to God, our neighbors and ourselves — for we are created for connection and communion. So don't miss out on the gifts of presence available to you right here and right now — look, listen and wait.
This week is Pentecost Sunday and we find Jesus' followers waiting too. Waiting to receive. "While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise." [Acts 1:4] For Jesus knew that as he would no longer be physically present with his disciples, they were receiving a new gift of presence. A presence that now would be poured out on all who would receive, awakening, sustaining and empowering them.
And so in these challenging times, we must wait. We must wait to receive. The life-giving power of the Spirit. The very breath of God. This is what will sustain us, strengthen us, encourage us, and empower us. On Pentecost, the Spirit transformed a motley crew of disciples who were confused, doubting, disillusioned, and hiding into the emboldened and empowered apostles of the early church.
The Spirit ignited a revolutionary fire in the midst of great oppression and persecution. And God's purposes of hope and renewal unfolded in spite of much upheaval and even the demise of their beloved Jerusalem. So in the midst of tumultuous times, we must not despair. We must wait to receive. For surely, the Spirit of God is at work in the world even in our current birth pains.
I pray even in the midst of the hard, the uncomfortable, and the uncertain, that we will be filled, empowered and awakened to the work of the Spirit that is unfolding in us and in our neighborhoods.
May we receive — everything we need and more.
by Jessica Ketola