Wait for the promise.
Waiting rooms are a vivid metaphor of twenty-first century life gone wrong. The daily freeway is fast, complicated, and separated, everyone moving from or toward something in a hurry. The waiting rooms are slow, simple, and congested. The anxiety in them, however, is no less formidable than when we’re in a projectile flashing through rush hour traffic. In fact, worry and apprehension may actually weigh more in the waiting room. Here there is a group inertia that lays heavy on the occupants enduring the suspense. In this place the clocks move slower, the coffee cools faster, everything happens in slow motion, and occasionally everyone in the room flinches in unison as the telephone rings or an announcement is made. Waiting may be our most urgent test.
Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem after his ascension. He had been with them for forty days. Though the Gospels provide significant details of his appearances and actions following the resurrection, few of us moderns can imagine the weight of their circumstances and the emotional stress they must have experienced. The Beloved disciple John portrayed them behind locked doors, perhaps fearful in the turmoil about the empty tomb---
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the
disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them...
John 20: 19, ESV
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although
the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them...
John 20: 26, ESV
There's no mention of their emotional state, any signs of stress or anxiety. But, surely the locked doors and words about "fear of the Jews" portray something of the heat of the hour. The texts remind us of their uncertainty and doubt, even when he appeared to them. He had taught them about his death and had promised being raised. Still, the crowds demand for his crucifixion, the horror of his being nailed to the cross, and the Roman soldiers had covered them with question marks of imminent danger.
And Luke recorded Christ's command that they wait in Jerusalem---
But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
Luke 24: 49, ESV
He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the
Acts 1: 4, ESV
Waiting may have been their greatest test of obedience after the ascension. We certainly can't imagine having a wait problem like that one. Most of us have intimate knowledge with the crucible of waiting and realize the stress and anxiety we experience when it is our order of the moment. Maybe we can learn something from Jesus about how to prepare for those anxious times, or assist others as waiting challenges them. Each of those Gospel writers were inspired to record Jesus' first words to them after his glorious resurrection. He said it many times during his earthly ministry. But, John recorded those words from Jesus after the resurrection---Peace be with you (see John 20:19; 20:21, and 20:26).
It sounds like a simple greeting from Bible times. The Jews said "Shalom" as their first word when encountering others. The Greeks said "eirene", also meaning peace. In these post-resurrection meetings, "peace be with you" was more preparatory and emphatic than casual. He wanted them to know peace as they endured the crisis of waiting.
You know, we never know the backstory of the people we encounter along the way these days. With Covid-19, "woke" movements, politics, school decisions, economic pressures, and a catalog of human tensions it is probable that many of us are facing wait problems of various sizes and shapes. it's very real right now-- employment uncertainty, school complications, care for our children, health concerns, mortgage foreclosures, and so many other questionable realities. Maybe the simple wish for peace to one another could give us a grip to forestall a personal crash while waiting.
Peace to you.
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