Waiting Out Loud
"Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?..."
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a negative experience at church? We all have, right? Often the moments of disappointment and pain are easy to recall, even years later. And yet, many of us refuse to give up, refuse to walk away ultimately because the Body of Christ can also be an incredible place of hope.
Sometimes these moments of hope are within the four walls of a church building. A gathering as diverse as the potluck dishes scattered across the table offers a small moment to be known. The camera flashes a thousand times capturing every sweet moment of a baptism celebration. Joy overflows during a ceremonious but reflective ordination service of an eager young minister. Laughter bubbles up from the Sunday school room where children grasp for the truths behind our Gospel story. Tissues are passed between the pews as love for a couple saying their vows flows throughout the sanctuary. A new pack of tissues is provided as a community comes together to remember a loved one who has passed. A needed retreat, a life-changing prayer service, a sermon that shoved the darkness away offer us glimpses of hope as we anticipate the coming again of our Christ.
We also have this great gift in community: it’s easy for our beautiful connection to overflow into the world. A shared meal at a homeless shelter, a shared story at the food pantry, dancing children at the community center, communion at the convalescent home remind us that this gift of Love knows no boundaries. Our connection is palpable as we march through the streets or stand in silence at community vigils. Together we celebrate anniversaries of freedom—from addiction, from domestic violence, from prison, from disease. We show up for one another as we take seriously our commitment to embody Love.
As we, the Church, wait on Christ, our hope is lived out loud.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you reflect on the year, in what ways have you been thankful for the Body of Christ in ways large in small, inside and outside the church walls? In the coming days, how can you continue modeling the love of Christ in the church building and beyond its walls?
PRAYER: God, sometimes, hopeful moments are easy to find, in weddings and anniversaries, in baptisms and family gatherings. But sometimes hope feels far and is felt deeply with groanings no one hears except you. This holiday season, help us to be attuned to the cries of humanity and respond in Love. May we indeed experience hope in you as we eagerly wait, with perseverance, your coming again. Amen.
It’s not a secret: sometimes it’s hard to find Jesus in church. Some of us have gotten used to the routine and the way things unfold in our weekly church services, and we just can’t seem to move beyond going through the motions. Others of us have been disappointed or we’ve become disenchanted, and we’ve decided to look for Jesus outside the church building. Others have gotten bored with the whole thing, and no longer expect to find Jesus in either the church or the Church. And then, there are those of us who find great comfort and deep meaning in both the church building and the Church of God.
Jesus built the church on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of Living God. Jesus pronounced that not even the gates of hell would prevail against it. Christ’s grace is at work in the church. And in the Church. In Advent Church, let’s celebrate the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and let the Church say, “Amen.”