The Apostolic Waiting Room!
'Waiting' as a concept is part of our lives, a part brought very much to the fore presently as we await further safe relaxing of the pandemic lockdown. Here, normality, whatever that term will describe in future months and years seems some way off yet.
In past 'normality' , waiting is part of life which simply can't be got rid of, despite us living in a world where an expectation of immediate fulfillment with little or no waiting is almost expected. Waiting can be amongst other things, exciting, frustrating, positive, pointless, fear-laden, and any combination of these. For example, a visit to the dentist and sitting in the waiting room can be positive when the thought of toothache relief is 'just around the corner' . But this waiting is also fear laden as the sound on whining drills from 'just around the corner' does it's best to convince us that our toothache now feels much better and possibly liveable with!
A child on Christmas morning is rightly excited by the sight of a none too subtly wrapped shape 'under the tree', but when the paper has been ripped off, frustratingly, it isn't quite the desired article.
At an airport I love 'people watching' and this expectant waiting at the beginning of an exciting holiday is often mixed with the frustration of a delay due to an air traffic controllers strike nowhere near the route to be taken!
I wonder how the remaining 11 disciples and sundry others felt in their 'Upper Room' in one of our readings for today, at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, better described by scholars as the Acts of Peter and Paul or better still the Acts of the Holy Spirit? They were thrown together in one place and waited for what turned out to be ten days. We are presently having a taste of the same in lockdown if with others of our families and friends.
You can imagine therefore in one small Upper Room how individual traits and idiosyncrasies came to the fore and perhaps began to make them smile or even began to get under their skins. For the eleven, this waiting after such monumental events in their recent lives must have really really chafed. Many theologians, see the election of Matthias as a result of such frustration... simply something to do... and not much more... as we never hear of him again! Perhaps, I suggest, they should have waited until St Paul happened along!
And so, I wonder how waiting and the spiritual fruit of patience listed by Paul in Galatians 5 and found in many other places of Scripture impacts on our spiritual lives? For myself, I am naturally very impetuous, and want to get stuff done 'yesterday', so in me patience has been a hard won growing of fruit by the Spirit ...so much so that I am not too sure that even now I react to things in the most patient of ways.
So, in these ten days alongside the enforced patience of lockdown, let us reflect on how we best deal with waiting in freer times and ask God to bless us each with patience and the remaining gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost.
Revd Canon Dr Stephen Foster