Sermon by Peggy Samuels
During this pandemic, much waiting is occurring in both connotations of the word. For the doctors, nurses, EMT specialists, and lab technicians in hospitals and clinics, waiting means serving others. Sometimes, such service to those persons with the Covid-19 virus means sacrificing their own lives to help the ailing ones survive. For the families of the ailing ones, they are waiting for any information from the doctors and nurses as they continue to hope.
The prophet Isaiah shares this thought with us in chapter 30:18 when he writes, “Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you. Therefore, he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him.” One of the first questions that one might ask is why is the Lord “waiting to be gracious?” To those anxious families waiting for the doctors and nurses to call concerning their loved ones, the question becomes even more justified. When we come to the next verse, however, the question is answered, because Isaiah says in chapter 30:19, “Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you.” God is waiting for the Israelites to cry out to him. In the same way, God is waiting for us to cry out to him.
Faith initiates God’s response. One example is found in the Gospel of St. Mark when Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus hears the blind beggar, He calls to him to come over. When Bartimaeus comes, Jesus asks him what he wants, and Bartimaeus responds that he wants his sight. Jesus says to him, “Go; your faith has made you well” (Mark 10:46-52; NRSV). Jesus acted on Bartimaeus’ faith. Bartimaeus’ sight was restored because of his faith in Jesus. Returning to our passage in Isaiah, we find chapter 30:20: “Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.” Through the waters of Baptism, we immerse ourselves to die to our sins and to receive God’s grace. We receive the Body of Christ at every Holy Communion remembering Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. When we are baptized, we become members of Christ’s Church and are then invited to His Table to receive His Body and Blood. As baptized Christians, we share in the resurrected life. The more we receive Him, the more we will come to understand Him, and like Mary Magdalene, we will one day say, “Rabboni” meaning Teacher.
When we call Christ our Teacher, we are humbling ourselves to be instructed, guided, and directed. During this pandemic, we might find ourselves anxious, confused, angry, hopeless, and frustrated. God is waiting to hear our cries of anguish. Bartimaeus sat on the road waiting for Jesus to walk by, so he could cry out to him. His faith restored his sight. Mary Magdalene ran to the tomb where Jesus was laid and found the Resurrected Jesus whom she called “Rabboni” after recognizing His voice. Then Jesus directed her to go and tell the Apostles that He is Risen. The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 30, verse 21, “And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (NRSV). Personally, I find it comforting to know that God’s Holy Spirit is guiding me.
Whether one is waiting on others as in serving others or waiting for an answer, both connotations of the word waiting call for God’s guidance which can only be initiated by our faith in God. Such waiting can also be interchanged with the word trusting. While faith initiates God’s response to us, trust fortifies our relationship with God. Faith deepens the more we trust in God. When I was pregnant with our daughter, Rebecca, I had a blood clot on one of the veins in my left leg. Several weeks prior to the knowledge that I had a blood clot, my father, who had died during my pregnancy with our son, Paul, came to me in a dream and told me that “I would have a little girl and that both of us would be okay.” Lying in the hospital bed full of tears because the doctor had just informed me of the major blood clot and the prognosis that it could travel to my lungs, I suddenly remembered that dream from my father. God’s grace permeated through me and I took some deep breaths and fell asleep soundly because I knew that my daughter and I would be okay. On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on that anecdote with tears in my eyes, so thankful to God and so thankful to the doctors and nurses who brought me through the journey to behold a beautiful baby girl some months later!
When we wait on God, we build trust in Him and deepen our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. We abide in Christ. We enjoy our relationship with Christ. We find the purpose in life by enjoying our companionship with Him. Loving God and loving our neighbors is the purpose in life, so continue to wait on God, because He loves you and He hears you! Amen.