Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love – Ephesians 4:2.
It’s only December 2nd, and yet, many of us may already be tired of waiting for Christmas to arrive. For some of us, especially the little ones among us, it’s difficult to wait for the presents to arrive. For others, our struggles with waiting take an entirely different form. We’re trying to wait out Christmas, get it over with, get past it, so we can get back to our routine, get back to normal. Perhaps, Christmas with its gatherings and celebrations paints too stark of a contrast to our own loneliness and grief. We can’t wait to be done with it. But we must, for neither in joy or sorrow can we speed up the clock.
What makes waiting easier? Company. Not any company mind you. There are some people who only increase our pain, but there are others who are able to encourage our faith and deepen our hope and who help us to wait. Mary and Elizabeth were both waiting for a tremendous promise to be fulfilled. These promises were not without their costs. To receive these gifts would alter their lives tremendously. Plans had to change. Friends would be lost. Family would turn their backs on them. Without one another, they would have been all alone. But even God seems to understand that waiting alone is a struggle almost too great to bear.
So God gives us each other - that we may hold one another’s hands, sit by each other’s side, and voice one another’s prayers. After all, prayer, as Henri Nouwen put it, is “coming together around a promise.” Such were the prayers of Elizabeth and Mary. Such can be our prayers as well, so long as we’ll learn to pray for and with one another.
Father, today, we your people confess that it is often difficult to wait on you. But we do wait, trusting that the God who has come shall come again. Until that day, we wait together, believing that this life together is an important part of your plan. Amen.