Holden Evening Prayer
3 December 2020
When the pandemic began, we had no idea how long it would last.
We also had little idea how to respond appropriately as much was still unknown about the virus.
Well, I haven’t disinfected my groceries for a long time now. And I believe that for most of us hand washing and sanitizing is more useful and more effective than wearing gloves, because with gloves you will think you’re protected and then scratch your nose.
I am glad that an end is in sight. I am thankful for researchers and those who have made research possible. And I pray that vaccines will be available not only to the rich countries of this planet.
But looking at the anticipated roll out of vaccines, we still have a way to go, with gatherings suspended, Christmas with the smallest circle of family, and generally cautious to keep everyone safe.
I have always appreciated Dr Bonnie Henry’s calm demeanor, even when she must be upset with the numbers, and her regular admonishments to be calm, safe, and kind.
For many these are stressful times, because of the uncertainty they carry, because of new work protocols and requirements, because of economic stress, and because of social deprivation.
I am thinking of my in-laws who for the first time in six decades will celebrate Christmas by themselves. I am thinking of high school graduates who, instead of sitting in a university classroom or lecture hall, are sitting in front of their computer at home, I think of those who live alone, and those who are elderly.
Recently a couple of churches in the Valley were happy to create headlines by disobeying the public health order regarding in-person worship. That that is irresponsible goes without saying.
Henry replied at the next press conference, “Faith is not a building, it is not about Sunday mornings, it is about every day. It’s not about rights, it’s about community.” I thought we might want to ask her to be a guest preacher.
There is something patient about being calm, kind, and safe, and I don’t mean to suggest that patience may come easily to Dr Henry. But being patient with each other is always important, because then we give each other space, we are less likely to jump to conclusions but give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Sunday’s reading from 2 Peter reminds us that God is patient. The community to whom Peter is writing has been influenced by false teachers who claimed to posses freedom in Christ but were actually in the throws of licentiousness, self-indulgence, greed, and self-deception. It is into this situation that Peter calls to a life of holiness, self-control, endurance, godliness, and mutual affection.
And into this situation Peter speaks of the patience of God.
“The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” (v.9)
Yes, God will establish God’s reign, but for now God is patient, giving us time to practice the patterns that a life of holiness requires.
And that is a word to us too. God is patient, which is why we can be patient with each other, and even with ourselves. There is no need to beat up each other or oneself, for tomorrow is another day, and God’s grace comes to us through God’s patience.