Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent 2 - 2 Peter, Waiting

Advent 2 - 2 Peter

2 Peter 3.8-15a

Therefore, beloved, while you ware waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace… (2 Peter 3.14)

Waiting… one has more experience waiting than Palestinians.

In America, waiting signifies failure. Finding ways to avoid waiting is a national pastime. A few years ago I signed up for Amazon’s two-day shipping, and when the free trial period expired I paid the annual fee to keep getting my books instantly. We add lanes when our superhighways start backing up. The apps on my iPhone give me instant access to restaurant information, weather, and even my own adult children. When people camp out overnight to wait for post-Thanksgiving bargains, it makes the national news.

While I gripe about the injustice of having to sit through two red lights, the Palestinians wait. They have been waiting for justice for more than sixty years. At the end of the war that erupted when

the UN recognized the State of Israel in 1948—on land that already belonged to olive growers and sheepherders and teachers and doctors—the Palestinians assumed that a peace agreement would soon allow them to return to their homes. When they fled, they carried their house keys with them. In exile, they hung these keys where they could look at them every day. With the passage of years, as Jews took over their villages, moved into their fully furnished homes and cut down their olive groves, the Palestinians began to realize that return was unlikely so they began to wait for compensation—either for land in other parts of Palestine or financial compensation for the land and homes that they lost.

The Palestinians of the Christmas Lutheran Church practice a theology of waiting. Like the writer of 2 Peter admonishes, they have found peace in the waiting. This does not mean that they no longer need the justice, or that they have given up the struggle. But they have found a way to live in peace and provide a future for their children even as they wait. They do not put their hope in the world’s obligation to provide justice for them.

Their latest project is the college—the first Lutheran college in the Holy Land. Pastor Mitri Raheb says that they are preparing leaders for the future of Palestine, so they will be ready when peace comes. They are starting small. The first classes to be offered focus on media and the arts, which have long been strong Palestinian traditions. The media classes help them share their stories and aid them in their struggle for human rights. Music and art programs help keep Palestinian culture alive. Their hope does not rest in a brighter future tomorrow, but in God’s promises of faithfulness.

God of waiting, you reveal to us your way of patience, and your mercy in giving us time for repentance. You have promised new heavens and a new earth where righteousness will reign. Help us to wisely use the time you have given us. Amen.

***Come support the building of the college in Bethlehem—Lessons and Carols for Advent, Sunday, December 4, 7:30 pm at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 E. Alameda, Denver, or contact me about making a contribution:

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