In the drab waiting-room
the failed travellers, resigned, sleep
on the hard benches, inured
to postponement and foul coffee.
Hope has given up on them.
There are also the impatient,
pacing platforms, and the driven,
purple with frustration, abusing
their mobiles, for the hardest part
of waiting is the not doing.
Truly to wait is pure dependence.
But waiting too long the heart
grows sclerotic. Will it still
be fit to leap when the time comes?
Prayer is waiting with desire.
Two aged lives incarnate
century on century
of waiting for God, their waiting-room
his temple, waiting on his presence,
marking time by practising
the cycle of the sacrifices,
ferial and festival,
circling onward, spiralling
towards a centre out ahead,
seasons of revolving hope.
Holding out for God who cannot
be given up for dead, holding
him to his promises—not now,
not just yet, but soon, surely,
eyes will see what hearts await.
God of all, for your love in creation, for your life giving Spirit within and between us, and for the servant leadership of Jesus, we give you thanks and praise. Enable us to listen to the needs of our community, to discern the gifts of your Spirit within and beyond the body of Christ, and to transform needs and gifts into new ventures of faithfulness in our ministry and mission together. (ABM)
"From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, my scattered ones, shall bring my offering." Zephaniah 3.10.
Arvo Pärt. Nunc Dimittis [The prayer of Simeon Luke 2.29-32] (2001)
The Tallis Scholars, dir. Peter Philips. Cheltenham Music Festival, Tewkesbury Abbey, 10 July 2013.
Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum,
quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum,
lumen ad revelationem gentium
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
Lord, now let your servant depart in peace
according to you word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
Which you have prepared before all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles
and the glory of your people Israel.
—Painting: Giovanni Bellini. Jesus, Mary and Simeon (c. 1640)
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.