Waiting for Resurrection

I love to connect with readers, and was thrilled to receive this email comment recently from Shelley K. Hill of Second Baptist Church in Chester, Virginia, reprinted here with her permission:

I am one of the teachers for our Lenten Season this year and we are excited about your book, Christ Is for Us and the journey you are leading us through….We have two Bible study sessions–12 noon and 7pm, both of which have doubled in size since we started this series. We are conducting our evening class in the sanctuary due to the number attending. Thank YOU!!

I am teaching “Waiting for Resurrection” and would love to share any additional insight with the class directly from you….I would be thrilled and honored to hear from you….

I asked Shelley if she might have a specific question for me to answer for her group, and even better than that she sent this reflection:

I am curious as to how you arrived at the title for the fifth Sunday of Lent, “Waiting for Resurrection.” I am fascinated by the word “wait” and all it implies for us on our Christian journey. Psalm 27 implores us to wait on the Lord. Revelation calls us to wait as it speaks to us of things to come. But what happens during the period of waiting? Are we waiting for Easter Sunday to be reminded of how Jesus suffered for our iniquities?  Or is it that God is waiting for us to be resurrected —revived to a new way of thinking and living so that He can shower us with His faithful love?

I appreciate Shelley’s question about the title, Waiting for Resurrection. Titles often come in the midst of my writing or even after a piece of writing seems otherwise finished. But in this case, the title emerged as I pondered the designated lectionary Scripture texts for the week and before I had written a word of this part of the book. In John’s gospel, Martha and Mary had clearly been waiting for Jesus to arrive, for each separately says to him:

Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died. – John 11:21, 32

Plus Martha’s response to Jesus indicated that she was waiting for a future resurrection:

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” – John 11:23-24

In Ezekiel, I imagined the valley of dry bones waiting for the Word of the Lord through the prophet:

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord. – Ezekiel 37:5-6

As Shelley notes, the concept of waiting appears elsewhere in Scripture – waiting for the Lord in Psalm 27 and waiting for things to come in the book of Revelation as she mentions. In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah wait for a son; the prophets wait for the day of the Lord; all Israel waits for the Messiah; and the letters of the New Testament speak of waiting for Christ’s return. So waiting runs through Scripture–it’s a rich image, and a rich spiritual practice as well.

In Scripture, waiting is full of expectation, so in that way I think of it as an active time. Waiting as portrayed in the psalms includes praying, singing, lamenting, worship.

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? – Psalm 13:1-2

For Mary as the mother of Jesus, waiting included spending time with her relative, Elizabeth, and pouring over Scripture as in her song in the gospel of Luke.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name. – Luke 1:46-49

So we might well ask ourselves,

How do we wait for resurrection?
How are we to live in this time of waiting?

The Romans text for this week points to part of the answer, for Romans 8:6-11 contrasts a life based on selfishness with a life based on the Spirit. On the one hand, selfishness means hostility to God and leads to sin and death. On the other, the life of the Spirit means peace and a life pleasing to God. The text ends with a reference to the resurrection of Jesus:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. – Romans 8:11

Just as the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, God gives life to us through that same Spirit. Even while we’re waiting for resurrection, we can experience the resurrection power of God that transforms our lives in practical, daily living.

_____________________

Writing/Reflection Prompt: How is the life-giving resurrection power of God transforming your life?

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Categories: Theology

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8 replies

  1. Welcome home, April! Waiting to hear your stories.
    Yesterday we had a good message about dry bones coming to life by Arny Froese.
    My dry bones have been rattling for some time now, and it feels so great to be alive again!
    Thank you for your inspirational writing above.
    Waiting! Yes, I am always waiting for God’s blessings, and waiting for Easter resurrection is always the best!

  2. Pastor April, thank you so much for allowing the Lord to use you to bless us with your book “Christ is for us.” We have certainly enjoyed the journey. May God continue to give you favor and great blessing upon your ministry.

    • Thank you for your words of kindness and blessing. It’s my privilege to contribute in a small way to the ministry of your church. May God’s Spirit continue to watch over and empower you and your congregation.

  3. How important is the context of most of the “wait” passages? How does one deal with the threat of violence preceding most of the “wait” verses? What is the connection of the “wait” passage in Isa. 40 to the servant songs that follow? Where is the “wait” word in the NT? (Yes, I have stuck to the word “wait” rather than anything broader.)

    • These are great questions, Dave. My comments in this post are brief, but the context of any one word or verse in Scripture needs to be considered as you rightly point out. In addition to the word “wait” in Scripture, we also see references to waiting even when the word is not used–e.g., Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds growing together (Matthew 13:24-30) and James’ encouragement to brothers and sisters to be patient until the Lord’s return (James 4:7-8).

      • My treatment of the word “wait” in the First Testament comes from my thinking about the roots of Jesus non-retaliation and active love. There’s no denial in my note of the truth of your meditation. I am hoping that people dealing with Biblical texts examine the roots before extrapolating, spiritualizing or becoming metaphorical.

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