“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:7-8 NRSV)
Dear Friends in Christ,
In the verses above from the book of James, the writer encourages the church to be patient in waiting for the Lord’s return. It is likely that the church is suffering persecution and James does not want them to give up hope.
Because of the coronavirus, this past year has been a particularly difficult, not only for our church community, but for people around the world. In no way do I want to equate the persecution of the early church to our situation, but still, when times are rough and we are waiting on the situation to improve, being patient is not easy.
Last year, St. Mark’s Church Council felt it was in the best interest of the health of our faith community to not celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with in-person worship. Now, this year, many of us will gather in-person on Easter Sunday, but still it will not be as it was in the past. Everyone will be wearing a mask, there will be physical distancing, and no Easter breakfast or fellowship after the worship service.
We continue to “wait on the Lord” to make things as they were before. And, for those who still feel vulnerable about meeting in-person for health reasons, I would encourage you to continue to gather in community and worship on our St. Mark’s Facebook page.
Like the farmer in James’ analogy, we must be patient for both the early and the late rains will come.
Having grown up on a farm, the one thing I do know, is that a farmer does not sit around and wait for the crops to grow. There are always other chores to keep you busy. Perhaps, there are livestock to feed, buildings and fences to repair, or other crops to fertilize, cultivate, and, if possible, to water.
Waiting on the Lord does not mean that we stop doing what we can.
The story is told of a of a long-time church member who would interject the same advice into every problem. At some point in the discussion, he would stand up and say, “Let’s pray about it and turn it over to God to take care of.” Praying for God’s guidance is always wise no matter the circumstance, however, we ought to remember that God is at work, not only through our prayers, but through our actions.
Perhaps, no New Testament writer knows this better than James, who says, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). James was a doer, but he also believed in the power of prayer, as he encouraged the community to continually and confidently pray for healing, forgiveness, and restoration of the Christian community.
This year, as we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection and move forward confidently in ministry, let us pray for healing, forgiveness, the restoration of the Christian community, and a renewed vision for our church and our own faith life. And let us continue to do ministry where and when we can, as we wait on the Lord for the early and late rains.
God’s continued blessings during this season of Easter!