Be patient, therefore, beloved,[a] until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.[b] 9 Beloved,[c] do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!
Rachel likes to talk about the geese. How nice they are. How beautiful and graceful they are. How they look after their young. She even posted a picture of the geese walking the labyrinth at Lake Junaluska. Bless her heart. That’s because she’s a nice person. She’s like our bishop. A few months ago the bishop walked into our meeting at the United Methodist Building in Garner. (Understand: I was in divinity school with the bishop.) She was talking about some of the habits of geese and how much they can teach us about cooperation, etc. So I said, “Bishop? Do you know why one side of the vee shape the geese fly in is longer?” The conversation grew silent because this was about to be a great theological point. She said, “Why?” I said, “Because there are more geese on that side.” For a second or two I was afraid my orders might be revoked.
But there is a dark side to the geese. Every golfer who has had to wade through geese on the golf course knows this. It is not pleasant to hit your golf ball out of the area where the geese have been meandering...not to mention you have to be careful where you walk! And while the geese WILL walk away from you as you approach, when their young are near, they are fearsome. They lift their heads, puff out their wings a bit, and they stick out their tongues and hiss at you! I don’t care how brave you are; that makes you just a bit uncomfortable. If you’re walking your dog and the dog is on a leash and lunges at the geese, they will not fly away; they will walk JUST out of range of the dog because they KNOW the human has the dog restrained.
There is a dark side to everything. Reading the book of James (Luther’s “straw epistle”) is not for the faint of heart. He tells it like it is. We bring evil on ourselves by our desires. Temptation does not come from God, nor is it condoned by God. James is especially hard on the rich. Read the six verses before 5:7-9 but sit down before you do so. We are to be “patient until the coming of the Lord.” That’s an interesting phrase. But since the Lord hasn’t returned, it stands to reason we are to be patient at all times...and not just until this COVID-19 stuff goes away. We are going to have to be patient as we meet for worship and even AS we worship. We will need to be patient as we negotiate our travels and re-figure our personal relations. Huggers are going to be disappointed. We won’t be able to make fun of “germ-a-phobes” because they’ve been right! There is a dark side to everything.
But only when we stand in the dark will we appreciate the light. Jesus didn’t come to make life better. He came to make it more interesting. And until he returns, we are just going to have to be...patient.
Charles Wesley (cue the heavenly chord) writes:
No one can truly say that Jesus is the Lord,
Unless thou take the veil away and breathe the living Word.
Then, only then, we feel our interest in his blood,
And cry with joy unspeakable, “Thou art my Lord and God.”
O God: It’s different. It’s new. It’s interesting. It’s frightening. It’s dark. Help us to be part of the light. Amen.
Another public service announcement: what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Pastor Rick Moser