We are in the middle of the first week of Advent. Advent being a time of waiting and preparation (among other things), we are gifted a reading from Luke that is about waiting and enlightenment and a clear-eyed shocking view of the world.
Jesus has flummoxed, yet again, the scribes and chief priests and they send spies to try and trap him into some mistake that will damage his growing ministry. They are unsuccessful today (although they try to be crafty) in pushing Jesus into a corner over payment of secular taxes. Jesus' response of give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's, foil that attempt. This simple statement also sums up one of the key ideas of Jesus' message in Luke: a new orientation of how we operate in the world must be adopted. And those crafty spies, and the scribes and chief priests, must sit back and wait some more.
Waiting can be so very hard. Waiting for Advent to be over and Christmas to be here....waiting for the birth of a child.....waiting for medication to cure an illness....waiting for a phone operator to take you off hold.....waiting for the tide to come in....for the seasons to change....for the rain to stop......for unemployment to be over.
I begin today, this first of December, my fifth month of unemployment. Today is day 123 of waiting while I continue my quest for a new call. I have been doing all that I know how to do to chase after a new cure, a place to serve. Although there has been much effort (and heartache) on my part these past 12o-odd days, this has also been a substantive and substantial time of waiting. If not the most difficult time in my life, this period ranks up there with one or two other life-altering times in my life. "Hard" does not begin to describe what these last months have been like for me. I pray each morning for the patience and the strength and the incite to continue to do that which I must to keep on searching. Most days, most, that prayer-life helps.... those daily devotions become a solid place in which, not only can I rest, but I can hope and trust that in time all will be well. I usually gain a broader perspective from exercising this Rule of Life of immersing myself in Morning Prayer and this discipline has helped see me through to this point. I do believe that I operate in the world differently than how I did before this experience.
Not only is Advent a time of waiting and preparation, but also a time of reflection and introspection. Part of my personal introspection brings me to reciting, regularly, a list of things about which I am grateful: the years of practice that has made this Rule of Life so much a part of who I am; the friends who remember to check in; the gift of their time; the love and support of family; the opportunity to supply ("substitute-priest") are just a few of my regular litany.
So I continue to wait in Advent. Waiting is so simple and so very hard.....just like the rest of life can be.....I do, personally, ask for your prayers of support and strength and love as I continue to explore this gift of time of unemployment during this Advent season. I also ask that we remember in our daily prayers all those who are unemployed or underemployed, particularly in this Advent (and Holiday) Season.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.