Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fooling with Scripture, Ep 16 -- Fooling with Waiting

In this week's Advent episode of the Fooling with Scripture podcast, we're talking about waiting and not waiting. In urgent times, can we afford to "wait for it"? And if not, what are we to make of biblical passages about waiting, and the emphasis on waiting during this time of the Church year? There is a big difference, I'll argue, between the concept of "waiting on God" cited in the scriptures and the idea of having a "wait and see" attitude. We'll be looking at several passages, but in particular at the prophet Habakkuk. Check it out:

If you're thinking this week's podcast sounds a bit familiar...well, you caught me. I've used this text, and this tension between waiting and not-waiting, before, in a sermon I gave back in seminary. You can read it here.

The best commentary I've ever read on Habakkuk is still the one written by Howard Thurman in the old Interpreter's Bible commentary. It's tough to find, but if you can, it's really an incredible gem.

The quote from Thurman that I read in the podcast is from Deep is the Hunger. In the 2000 edition from Friends United Press, it can be found on page 53-54, and includes a story about driving in the snow that is perfect for this time of year:
"Paradoxical as it seems, patience is an important technique for accomplishing difficult tasks, even in matters having to do with social change….Some things cannot be forced but they must unfold, sending their tendrils deep into the heart of life, gathering strength and power with the unfolding days....Patience…is only partially concerned with time, with waiting; it includes also the quality of relentlessness, ceaselessness and constancy. It is a mood of deliberate calm that is the distilled result of confidence. One works at the task intensely even as one realizes that to become impatient is to yield the decision to the adversary."
You can read the full text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' here;  and you should. You should read it, over and over again, particularly if you are about to comment on any group's choice of timing or protest tactics.

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