Patience is not one of our strengths and this is particularly true during the Christmas season. Anxiousness, anticipation and impatience are the orders of the day.
Paul tells us that the Birth we celebrate did not happen on our schedule, and at our demand, but rather “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…” (Gal. 4:4).
And in a secular context, great events don’t always occur on our preferred timeline.
In 1948, then Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey, speaking at the 1948 Democratic National Convention (which has been in the news of late for other reasons), told those gathered “there are those who say to you we are rushing this issue of civil rights… the time has arrived for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of state’s rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.” But it was a 16-year struggle, with complications and tragedies to be experienced, before the great civil rights legislation of 1964 was passed and signed into law.
In June 1982, then President Ronald Reagan gave one of the seminal speeches of his career, this time to the British Parliament, demanding “world liberation,” from communism, claiming the future for democracy and predicting “the march of freedom in democracy…will leave Marxism/Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle self expression of the people.” But the end of the cold war and the collapse of communism were still nearly a decade away, and few of the political elites shared Reagan’s optimism.
Reform and renewal are never easy and are never fully completed. And there is reason to believe that bringing reform and renewal to the Lutheran expression of Christian faith will be challenging, complex, difficult and not at all convenient or orderly.
But be of good cheer; although we do not know the path, the route or the time, we know that we do not walk alone in this journey. And we have this promise:“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:10-12).
And to all, a very Merry Christmas!