God With Us...When We Wait

God With Us  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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On our knees as we wait, we find God's loving presence that strengthens us in the shifting, swirling world and roots us to a solid foundation through the storm.

The New Revised Standard Version Song of Trust in God Alone

5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,

for my hope is from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;

my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us. Selah

9 Those of low estate are but a breath,

those of high estate are a delusion;

in the balances they go up;

they are together lighter than a breath.

10 Put no confidence in extortion,

and set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;

twice have I heard this:

that power belongs to God,

12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.

For you repay to all

according to their work.


Jesus says, “follow me.”
To the disciples. To his followers. To us.
Many of us have reflected upon the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this past week. Not only on his particular story, but on the stories of countless people who spoke up for the work of racial justice in our nation and who continue to do so.
We all know there is an immediacy to the issues of racial reckoning — the time is always now to make steps toward greater equity and justice for all people and to particularly lift up and listen to the voices of historically marginalized people, black and brown bodies, whose place at the table is long overdo.
I’ve wondered at how we hold the immediacy of this necessary reckoning, while also being able to “wait in silence” for God to work. Does that seem to be in tension? Does God not know that the work is necessary now, that now is the time to show up and roll out the promised justice of the Jubilee upon all people? Does God not know, has God not heard their cries? Is it only in the silence of waiting that God arrives?
What actually seems to be going on here is that the Psalmist has done the work necessary to cultivate a place of silence and waiting within themselves that is grounded in a firm foundation of God’s presence. The waiting in silence for God is not a passive waiting. And it’s not Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot, who never arrives.
Rather, the waiting is something of a cultivate place of peace within the Psalmist, regardless of action or stillness. There is a place within the Psalmist, and hopefully in us, where in the stillness of prayerful attention, there is cultivate a solid rock on which all other things stand upon, all trials and joys are secured, all action is rooted and founded in.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar and prolific writing on prayer and spirituality, wrote a small book on prayer called Dancing Standing Still. The book discusses just this work of cultivating that place in ourselves. He uses the example of Greek philosopher Archimedes to illustrate the strength and magnitude of such cultivated stillness. in the third century BCE, Archimedes discerned the relationship between a lever and a fulcrum and their combination to lift great amounts of weight. He is quoted saying, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.”
Linking this with the struggle of Dr. King and so many others in the fight for racial justice. What we see from history and from our own day is that those who have cultivated this place of strength and stillness in themselves, practicing the presence of God, that their small voices can make great movement and change happen, if applied in the right place, with the right “fulcrum.”


“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”
The Psalmist has made space for waiting. Waiting for God, waiting in God, waiting with God.
And so, when God calls, or opportunity presents itself, the Psalmist is ready. Ready to listen, ready to place trust, ready to pour out his heart, ready to take refuge and ready to belong in God’s steadfast love.
We are looking at texts in this Season of Epiphany which remind us how God is with us. Emmanuel. And here, we see that God’s presence abides in us in those places where we have waited and made space.
This has been a long, long, long year of waiting. A long year. Twelve months ago, we had no idea what it would have meant to cultivate waiting in the ways we have, but here we are, and we are still waiting. We’re waiting for the all clear to get on with life. We’re waiting for justice to truly arrive. We’re waiting to see loved ones, waiting for doctors to treat us and help the sick and the dying.
I wonder, have we been aware of what we’ve been given in this all? I know, for me, it’s been a very hard season to truly cultivate the inner work in myself. There are so many distractions, so many things to be concerned with, so many unknowns. But…in the moments when I’ve chosen to stop and slow down, I recognize I’ve been given a great gift by the spaciousness of this season.
In that gift is the opportunity to discover God in the stillness, God in the waiting.
Some of Dr. King’s most powerful writing comes from his Letters from the Birmingham jail. Similarly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters from Prison is one of his most provocative and crystalized periods of writing and teaching. These two men, imprisoned for speaking up about the cause of racial justice in America and decrying the Nazi regime in Germany, they took the opportunity to let their imprisonment be a place from which to speak. They did not let the structures that encumbered them be silencing.
I have little patience for the complaint some make these days that says we’re being imprisoned by our government because of mask mandates, something of our liberty threatened by social distancing. Sure, this is annoying, its not what we want. But rather than complaining, I wonder if the ways we have had to quarantine and protect in this season, warding off COVID-19, if these so called prisons are only prisons if we let them be. What about the opportunity to cultivate prayerful quiet and stillness in these spaces? What about the opportunity to slow down and hear the Spirit’s voice a bit more clearly, setting aside the cacophony of voices that we so often hear as we go about our “normal” days?
Like we hear in Jesus’ instruction to the disciples, “follow me.” Like the invitation from the Psalmist we receive as we find God in the silence. It is in this work, this practice, that we discover we have a strong rock to stand upon after all, that the ground is actually not shifting under our feet, that we are held in the loving arms of God’s presence, here and now.

Looking ahead

I want to turn our minds to what is before us. I want us to remember that the Psalmist wrote many times from a place of being overwhelmed and concerned for their safety. I want us to recognize the uncertain state of things these days and also recognize that God is so very faithful to sustain us going forward.
We look ahead by looking back. This is the way of hope.
In a few moments, our congregation will hold its annual meeting to do just this, to look back. And in reviewing the way 2020 went for us, we also look forward with a glimpse at what we think God might be leading us toward. 2020 was a hard year. Can I get an amen? And 2021 hasn’t started in the easiest way either, amen? So what we do today, as we look back and look forward, is to cultivate that place in ourselves and in our collective community that seeks God’s assuring presence in this moment, holding hope from all that God has done and will do.
I’ve been reflecting on 2020 by considering Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders. Yet another text from our Scriptures that reminds us of the solid rock we stand upon. This past year, we weathered a great storm. We’ve changed so much about how we work and serve as a church. We’ve adapted to the challenges of needing to cease meeting in our building for the time being, all the while longing for the Presence of God we feel that pulling us toward each other across that distance.
What this reflection has offered for me is a powerful reminder that we stand upon a foundation as a church. For over 130 years, we’ve weathered storms together. And today, amidst this current one, we see that the firm foundation beneath us is holding, that God’s solid rock of Presence is sustaining us. Yes, we are taxed, but our relationships have held as well, with connections and support of one another through the year. Our financial foundation has held, God providing enough for all that we need, sustaining and holding fast through this struggle. Our leaders are steady, our elders and deacons resilient and committed to the faithful work of stepping out into the future together, stepping on what we know is a firm foundation.
How can we do this? Well, we’ve done that work of cultivating the stillness and silence where God abides with us in such a way that it has become like that level and fulcrum. God’s fulcrum rock makes it possible for God’s people to lift mountains, to enact justice, to do the difficult work of staying together and serving one another.
The Psalmist reminds us, “those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together light than a breath.” The positions of power and lowliness of poverty are fleeting measures, they blow in the wind.
As does the supposed strength in those who would extort, rob, and seek only after riches…it is all fleeting.
But the steady footing of God’s presence provides something else. It provides assurance that when the storm winds blow, the house holds. It is steadfast, secure, unfailing.
So when we hear the words, “follow me”, and when we’ve cultivated that space to listen, we discover God leads and guides us on right paths, stable and sustaining.
This is how we look forward, how we move on together.

Getting Restless

St. Augustine opened his Confessions with this declaration: “our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you.”
Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you.
We’re going to have another long year. And the year after that. I was thinking recently about how, in my family life, it seems like there is always something happening that is a struggle. A health concern, a loss, a shortfall, a strained relationship. These are the restless realities of living with and loving other people. There is and will be heartache and the feeling of all that is unresolved and not as it should be.
This is so very much the same with our life together as a church. We are restless as we think of all that must be done to gather in person again some day, all that we have lost and all that will be forever changed. We feel the restlessness when we hear the news and witness the struggles of the unhoused in our community and feel restless at our inability to solve this problem, to do anything to help. We feel the restlessness of how divided our nations feel. We are restless at the ongoing violence and hatred spewed against the least of these. We are restless at the impending climate crisis, restless at the thought of our children and grandchildren’s future.
We are restless. So…shall we stay there? Can we stay there?
We mustn’t. I know I cannot.
No. Instead, we cultivate. We find that still space and wait.
We sang one of my favorite hymn lines earlier this morning. The third verse of “Come Ye Sinners” says “If you tarry ‘til you’re better, you will never come at all.”
Do not wait. Do not remain in the restlessness. The shifting stand will be under your feet if you do. Instead, step in to prayer and worship of the God who offers firm foundation beneath you, the solid rock.
Our hymn of response will lead us into this grounded place. We break bread, we drink wine, we praise God together on our knees. We firmly root ourselves into God’s presence and wait there, assured that God’s mercy shines upon us there, our faces turned to the rising sun of hope and God’s promised presence.
Amen. Let us sing together, hymn #525 in the Glory to God, “Let us Break Bread Together.”
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