Theme: Hurry Up and Wait

Monday, December 10

Written by C. Wayne Brown, First Congregational Church of Fresno

Isaiah 49:5-7

Waiting: Inspiration from Isaiah

Of all activities we are bound together by, besides bodily functions, it is waiting—as common as our blood. No matter what your occupation, status, or location, everyone does it. We wait in long lines for gas, groceries, social security updates, job interviews, and dental appointments; we wait for traffic signals, hotel check-ins, airline boarding, doctors, answer of our 911 call, you name it; it’s out of our control. For that we ask for needed patience. There’s also dated social engagements, like Christmas, concerts, movie openings, first game of the season, and new beginnings on January first.

We live with little voices of early instruction—”Now, wait your turn, honey,” “It won’t be long; just be patient,” and the countless plethora of platitudes. “All good things come to those who wait.”

But do they? Sometimes. My grandfather had his own expression, “Wait’s what broke the bridge.” At certain times, I think I can say, “Amen, Gramps, Amen,” although I’d be surprised if his inspiration came from Isaiah 49, verses 5-7.

In it we hear the voice of a man who believes he was chosen “even before I was born,” to be more than a servant, but a light to rescue a nation from slavery, and for his people to be delivered into freedom. Notice as you read this passage from your own Bible, that Isaiah does not say he has to wait for a letter, a dream, a sign, a prophet, telephone call, or an e-mail from God to act. No. His mission is righteous and just, and the reward of freedom for his people awaits.

I have to believe this lesson was folded like a poem from God and tucked into drawers of Dr. Martin Luther King’s mind when he decided to lead marches to demand equality and freedom to oppressed, to right the wrongs of indignation of Blacks in the South. It certainly is evident in the letter he wrote to eight clergymen (rabbis, priests, ministers) who warned him of consequences of his leadership and advised him to Wait for freedom and justice. Dr. King’s letter is eloquent, polite, poetic, and ripe with power of theologians and theosophers who came before him. In that context, I want to quote him from his letter:

For years now I have heard the word “wait.” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights.

Perhaps we’ve used those primordial whispers to justify the wait for action.

So this season, perhaps we can begin anew by consciously sorting the types of wait we bathe in, ask for the ancient platitudes to vanish, and admit we know what we have been assigned—love, kindness, and compassion for all of God’s creation. And we don’t have to wait until January 1, 2019.