Love is patient … 1 Corinthians 13:4
Greetings to all in the Love of Jesus Christ:
Recently I have had the privilege to listen in on Pastor Dave Hedgepeth’s on-going sermon series on the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Paul’s list of the attributes of a Christian in Galatians 5:22-23 has long been a favorite of mine: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we allow the Spirit to work in us and through us, if we truly open ourselves to God’s Spirit of love, our neighbors will experience us as loving, joyful, peacemaking, and patient; kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and in control of ourselves. Would all of our neighbors describe us as such!
Today I am reflecting on the many flavors of PATIENCE. I feel good when I HAVE patience, when I am able to let go of anxiety and just take the world as it comes, one day at a time. As Jesus says: So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
But I usually don’t feel good when someone tells me to BE patient. Patience seems to work best when it comes from within, not when it is imposed upon us. I think of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words in response to being told to be patient, to wait, to not push society to change: Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; … then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over.
So what do we say about patience and the pandemic? I know we want it to be over. We are struggling with patience – some more than others. But I hope we are not impatient with each other as we wait. Every pastor in our Region, every board moderator, is feeling the stress of making decisions, knowing that some in the congregation want to meet again and some want to wait until the pandemic has subsided. I pray that we can be gentle with each other as we seek to navigate this unwelcome situation.
And I know that many of us hope that when it is over, we don’t just “go back” to how things were before. Fifty-seven years have passed since MLK wrote about the stinging darts of segregation, hate-filled policemen, and the airtight cage of poverty. I pray that we all have a holy impatience to transform our society into a community of God’s beloved where we value each one of us as a holy and precious divine gift, and where we all have a roof over our heads, food on our table, and the freedom to be ourselves.
Dios les bendiga!
Regional Minister and President, Christian Church in Arizona