Guest Commentary by Bishop Gretchen Rehberg
Nine months. That is how long it has been since I have been on the transplant list. Nine months. I have never given birth to a child, but that time frame seems more real to me now. It is both a very long time, and over quickly.
I hate waiting. I have never been good at it. I prefer to plan, organize, implement and get to work. I prefer structured time frames planned well in advance. So I will admit this is a difficult time for me. I got myself a T-shirt that helps, “In the waiting God is still working.” I am reminded that waiting is not passive: Something is always happening.
Or perhaps it is not really waiting that I don’t like. It is the uncertainty, the waiting without knowing how long that waiting will last. I am really good actually at making plans for things that will take place later in time, but in that case the waiting is with an end date in mind. It is the waiting that involves uncertainty, the unknown, a loss of control over time and events that I don’t like.
The Church and Waiting
Many of you might be the same. The challenge before us is that in many ways the Church itself is in such a time. We are in a time when we have uncertainty about the future, we see the challenges before and the answers are unknown, there is a sense that we are not in control over the events around us. And so perhaps many in our congregations are feeling the stress of this time.
Our spiritual ancestors had similar times, times of uncertainty, times of waiting, times when the answers to the challenges facing them were unknown. And our spiritual ancestors can help us today, for they witness to being faithful in the midst of the waiting, the uncertainty, the unknown. They witness to continuing to pray, to gathering together for worship and study and fellowship. They witness to continuing to share the good news of Jesus Christ. They witness to loving their neighbors and striving for justice and peace. Our spiritual ancestors witness to the truth that God is still working, and our call is to join in the work of God.
September is a month when most of our congregations “return” from a summer schedule, get more active, perhaps have some sort of fall festival or welcome fair. It is a time when schools are back in session and county fairs are in full swing. Harvest for much of our produce is done. It is not really fall, not really summer, it is simply September, in many ways a time of transition from one season to another.
The Month of September
Perhaps we can view times of uncertainty and waiting similar to the month of September, a time of transition from one season to another. There is energy in September. It is not passive, just as we are not called to be passive in our times of transitions. We might not always see clearly what the future holds, but we can claim the truth that God is working, and our call is to continue to faithfully join God in that work.
May you all have a blessed ninth month of the year, a month of energy, a month of transition, a month of faithful waiting, a month of faithfully staying with God.