It is almost 2022, and we still live with a pandemic. The debates about COVID-19 and arguments between the vaccinated and unvaccinated continue to rage.
Our churches have made hard decisions over the past year and a half. Do we gather in person? Do we continue to use Zoom?
We have needed to create new ways to stay connected. Some of our members have returned to worship, and some have stayed away.
This time has been chaotic and difficult. We have been waiting so long for it to be over.
As we enter the season of Advent, we ask: “When is God going to do something?”
We are not alone in asking this question. It is a question that has been passed down to us.
In the days leading up to the birth of Jesus, the people of Israel wore God’s prophecies on their hearts as they suffered through the oppression of their day.
They lived in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. They waited and prayed for that day.
Like all people who go through a common experience — whether of joy or struggle or strife — the people of Israel shared a special bond. The connection between people who know the same world is a strong one.
What does this mean for us, the people of the pandemic era?
Our experience of the past couple of years has shown us our shared humanity. We have shared the experience of lives being changed by the global pandemic.
There has been disagreement about how best to live during this time, but the shared experience remains.
In Scripture, as God’s people dealt with the oppression and bleakness they faced, God responded in a surprising way. God did not end their time of trial immediately. God did not end the world’s injustices.
God answered the prayers of God’s people by participating fully in their experience.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection reveal a God who joins in the experiences of humanity. A God who responds to the world’s struggles by being with those who are suffering.
Advent prepares us to meet a God who loves creation so much that God humbles Godself to share in the experience of humanity — all of our joy and sorrow, our disappointment and hope.
God shared human experience through Jesus — who depended upon others, as we do. Who connected to shared experiences with others, as we do.
One of my struggles as a pastor has been connecting with my congregation. I am a Black man who pastors a predominantly white church. I am much younger than many of my congregants. My life experiences have been very different from theirs.
Yet, during the pandemic, we have shared a realization: We have no clue what to do.
At times, we have all been afraid. We have all been confused. And, currently, we are all tired.
How human is that? Fully human. As Jesus was.
The pandemic experience is one of life’s rare occurrences that everyone shares. We are all in it together.
Many of us have responded by fostering connections in creative ways. We have to depend on each other like never before to get through this season of life.
And we have to depend on God. Because I believe God is walking with us. God is experiencing the pandemic too.
This is what Advent does for us. It helps us realize our shared humanity and our dependence on each other and on God.
I believe this awareness can help us get through the waiting. It sustains us through the suspense and stress of anticipating God’s next move.
In our waiting, praying and hoping, we must have faith that God is moving. God is walking with those who are suffering through this trying time.
As we look forward to God’s movement among us, we take heart in knowing we all wait together.