Waiting with Hope // M-Note 11.6.2020

Gathering,

We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn't hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don't see, we wait for it with patience. In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don't know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. Roman 8.24-26
 
As I write this on Friday morning, Americans are still waiting to hear the final vote tally for the 2020 Presidential Election. While it looks as if Joseph Biden will be elected, it isn’t final. While there are speeches and tweets, lawsuits and rhetoric, there isn’t much either candidate can do at this point. There are no more real moves to make, nothing that can make this go faster. All of us just have to wait patiently.
 
We aren’t good at waiting. We are so conditioned to believe there is always something we can do, some way that we can affect the outcome or expedite the process. In a world with things like instant pots, express checkout, and same day deliveries we have created a science out of figuring out how to avoid waiting. So, when we run up against realities in our world that we cannot speed up, we don’t know what to make of it. We think it unjust or not right. We are almost offended by it. We think we deserve answers when we want them.  But that isn’t the way the world works. And at times, we are brutally reminded of that reality.
 
It isn’t just the elections. 2020 will go down as a year of waiting. There are the obvious things. We are waiting on a pandemic, we are waiting for schools to open, business to resume, or life to get back to something that resembles normal. Beyond pandemic life, many of us are stuck waiting on other things – waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for a job, waiting for justice, or waiting for a relationship.
 
Sometimes I don’t even know exactly what it is I am waiting for? Yet here I am. This year feels like that to me. I don’t know what to expect, so my patience doesn’t have a clear object. And so I wonder sometimes if I will ever receive whatever it is I am waiting for. Maybe that is what Paul meant in his letter to the Romans when he wrote:
 
We don't know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.
 
If you feel like that today, as if you are uncertain what it is you should even be praying for, you aren’t alone. In two weeks, the church begins the season of Advent which means “coming”. It is a season devoted to the human task of waiting. Specifically, waiting for God in Christ to come– into our life, into our family, into our marriage, into our city, or into our world and put right that which is wrong. As Christians we are called to live in hope – a hope that comes from knowing and feeling God’s presence with us, and yet still waiting for that presence to change us and our world. We stand as people in between the world as it is and the world as it is becoming. We do this trusting that God is at work, and that soon and very soon, we will see God’s work more fully.
 
So whatever you are waiting for today, do it with hope. This is a hope that comes from knowing that what you are experiencing today is temporary, but what God will ultimately do with you and for you will be eternal. There is a day our waiting will be over. The President will be decided (hopefully, by the time you read this). The pandemic will eventually end. Normal (whatever that is) will come. Life can and will feel differently than it does today. And on a grand scale, there will be a day when wrongs are made right, tears give way to joy, and anxiety fades away. God promises us this. So, be encouraged today by that hope. Because Christ is present and at work - keep waiting, keep praying, keep working, keep hoping. It is not in vain. 
 
Peace,
 
Matt
 
P.S. This week in the mail you should have received a card for our Say Yes series. I will explain that card this weekend in worship along with celebrating the results of our Acts 2 challenge. It is going to be an inspiring day to tune in, so I look forward to seeing you Sunday. If you missed any part of our Say Yes series, you can find it here or on The Gathering app. Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast for the messages in itunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search The Gathering sermons.

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