Sunday 26 August 2007

Waiting — a forgotten part of real discipleship

Rosie our Vicar preached a sermon I found really perceptive and helpful at this morning's 8.00 in Great Missenden, on the almost forgotten Christian virtue of Patience.

14 times the New Testament speaks of its centrality for life, and as a fruit of the Spirit. Unfortunately, from terrorists to supermarket shoppers, whatever it is, we want it our way, we want it Now, and nothing less will do. Not to have an instant solution is the ultimate failure. There's no such thing any more as a season for which we wait, not even for strawberries. Perhaps that's one reason so many people can't get no satisfaction, and are so angry and unhappy, scanning the bookshop for a 'How To' Book that will somehow take the waiting out of wanting.

But think how patient God is all the time! In us, Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that grows, in due season, as we wait in hope. The Eucharist itself is the joyful expectation of an unfulfilled hope — an act of patience.

So exactly the people to break bread with are the people you can't stand, whilst you wait, with them, for something better. That's exactly the point of the ruddy thing! Hang up on them and you cut yourself off, because God hasn't hung up on them yet, even if you have.

Food for thought.


Ian said...

I can assure you it is not forgotten in Africa! It is one of the big cultural adjustments for westerners coming here because waiting is such a big part of life. But I agree that it if patience is a virtue, then waiting is a spiritual discipline and it is one that is much better practised in Africa than in the west.
I can only add that even after 1 year here my capacity for waiting is still more western than Rwandan!

Unknown said...

The talk that introduced me to the TED series, and one which I still think is one of the best, can be found at

Steve Whitmore

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks, Ian. I wonder how the things I experience as deficits in myself and others have their uses — I think fear can be very destructive, but I'd hate to be driven in a car with someone who knew no fear! I don't know Africa, but I've often heard there's often a capacity for waiting (in the timing of services, getting projects completed and signed off, e.g.) about the place, and a strong feeling of Oneness ('Ubuntu?'). Here, free from the frustrations they can cause in excess, I'd wish for more of these resources, if that's what they are, for me and in the communion!

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