This morning I want to talk to you about Patience.
(Pastor sits in a chair and waits, for a long time. Pastor gets up slowly and walks around the Sanctuary looking at the furnishings, slowly. Pastor returns to chair and waits some more.)
Now let me tell you something else about patience.
(Pastor starts looking at watch and getting frustrated. He paces back and forth in front of students acting perturbed. He goes to the back and looks both directions to see if someone is there. Finally he grabs a book and throws it to the floor in anger)
What did you learn?
Someone said that patience is not simply the ability to wait, but it is how we behave while waiting. Listen to a story.
There was once a teacher who gave his pupils some sunflower seeds so they could plant them and care for them and watch them grow. They were told when fully grown they could dry and eat the seeds. One boy in the class, who loved sunflower seeds, was so excited that he planted the seed and looked after it with great care.
He watched that cup of dirt every day waiting for the sunflower to pop through the soil. It was the first thing he did every morning and last thing he did every afternoon. When the first shoot finally appeared, the boy, filled with impatience, went to see his teacher.
“Can I uproot it yet?” he asked, anxiously. The teacher answered that it was too early. The plant needed to grow some more, that it would be a long time before any seeds were ready to eat. The boy was very disappointed, but he kept on looking after his sunflower.
However, he grew increasingly impatient, and did little else but pester his teacher about wanting to take out the plant. Despite the teacher asking him to be patient, as soon as the boy saw the sunflower’s first seeds, he cut the plant so he could eat them. But the plant was still green, the seeds were not ripe, and they tasted horrible.
The boy was devastated: He had put so much effort into caring for the sunflower, but in the end he had squandered it all for a simple lack of patience. And he was even angrier when he saw how enormous his classmates’ sunflowers grew. Ultimately, he resolved not to be so impatient in the future, and to listen to his teacher. Fortunately, he wasn’t completely out of luck, and his friends were good enough to share their delicious sunflower seeds with him.
We want what we want and we want it now! That’s our daily chant. We want what we want and we want it now! And when we are impatient or try to hurry up or don’t allow enough time for things to grow, or mature, we end up in trouble. Can you think of some things that require patience to work the right way?
Suggestions: a seed to grow; hitting a baseball; water to boil; the end of the school day.
Good ideas. But there are also lots of examples of people waiting patiently (or not) for God to act. God first told to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations when he called him to leave his country and go to the land God would show him. Abraham was 75 years old. Fifteen years later, when Abraham was 90, God renewed his promise. Ten years later, at age 100, Abraham and Sarah finally had their son. That’s a total of twenty-five years.
How long did the Israelites wander through the desert after leaving Egypt on their way to the Promised Land? Forty long years. It certainly doesn’t take 40 years to get from where they started in the Nile Delta to reach Jericho.
Think of old Simeon, the priest in the temple, who waited his whole life to see the promised Messiah. God had told him long before that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. Then when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple to be blessed, Simeon lifted him up and said, “Lord now let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all the world to see. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the hope of your people Israel.”
When God promises something to his people he will make that promise come true no matter how long it takes. He promises Abraham he’d be a father. And He promised Israel to deliver them to the promised land. And he promised Simeon that He would see the Messiah.
When God promises He also promises to be with us while we wait and that means that He is our patience. We don’t have to worry about whether or when because God will act when the time is just right. So how do we wait? We wait and pray for God to give us peace in our waiting. We wait and worship listening to all the promises God has delivered to others and us. And we wait and receive the gifts of salvation in Absolution for our sins and His supper that unites us as His people.
In fact, we wait with God at our side in everything we do when we are baptized. Baptism is God’s promise to be patience at our side every day wherever we are and whenever we doubt. Baptism if God giving us the Holy Spirit to wait with until Jesus comes. So be patient and wait. Jesus will come.