Two-way waiting

Lent 2 (February 24, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Genesis 15:1-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

On Wednesday we shared lunch with Brent Stutzman, who is visiting Jordan with his parents.  Brent served with MCC for three years (2009-2012) at the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, an MCC Global Family partner in Salt, Jordan.  He is currently doing graduate work in special education at Boston College, while working part-time at the Perkins School for the Blind.

Brent-HLID

Brent explains Holy Land’s deaf-blind unit to members of a Global Family learning tour (April 2012).

This week, Daryl accepted an offer to serve as executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, beginning July 1.  With mixed emotions — excitement about the adventure ahead and sadness about the relationships we leave behind — we plan to conclude our work in Jordan in the middle of June, moving to Harrisonburg, Virginia.

On Thursday, we were privileged to host a guest who is lives in Damascus and works with Syrian families affected by the civil war.  Just before arriving at the MCC office, our guest received word of a major bomb blast near his office in Damascus.

A Syrian child in Jordan (photo by Chevy Morris for CARE)

A Syrian child in Jordan (photo by Chevy Morris for CARE)

With the fighting in Syria growing worse, the United Nations says that an average of 70,000 Syrians are arriving in Jordan each month, and warns that more emergency camps must be developed in order to accommodate the rapid influx.

Trailers in the Mreijeb Al Fhoud camp, 14 miles (22km) east of Zarqa. The camp, which is yet to receive Syrian refugees, can accommodate 30,000 people (Photo by Muath Freij for the Jordan Times)

Trailers in the Mreijeb Al Fhoud camp, 14 miles (22km) east of Zarqa. The camp, which is yet to receive Syrian refugees, can accommodate 30,000 people (Photo by Mu’ath Freij for the Jordan Times)

A total of 360,900 Syrians are now living in Jordan.  That number is expected to double by June.  Some 42 percent of the arrivals are children who often carry with them the trauma they experienced in their country.

The large influx of Syrians into a resource-challenged country is creating tensions between the refugees and Jordanian host communities, as both groups compete for scarce resources and opportunities.

The Lectionary readings for this second week of Lent focus on waiting.

In the Old Testament reading, God promises the aging and childless Abram that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and that, after a 400-year-long period of oppression, God will provide a place for them.  Amazingly, Abram believes God, trusting God to fulfill these distant promises.

Syrian children wait in Jordan (photo by Mu'ath Freij for the Jordan Times)

Syrian children wait in Jordan (photo by Mu’ath Freij for the Jordan Times)

While experiencing trouble and the assault of adversaries, the psalmist also chooses to trust God rather than taking matters into his own hands.  “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” the psalmist affirms.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27:13-14)

In the Epistle reading, Paul reminds the church at Philippi that their citizenship is in God’s kingdom rather than in an earthly nation (Phil. 3:20). Furthermore, they are to wait as Jesus – the one who reigns supreme in God’s kingdom — transforms their humble bodies into bodies that glorify God (v.21).

The Gospel reading reminds us that not only do humans wait for God to act; God waits for humans to act as well.  Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and its resistance to God’s ways. “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” Jesus laments, “and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

Waiting aptly describes the life of refugees.  They wait for basic accommodations in a host country. They wait for word from their loved ones back in Syria.  They wait to see if and when they can return home.  There are few things that refugees control.

Waiting is also the testing grounds for our faith.  What we do while we wait for God’s promises to be fully realized is the truest measure of what we believe.  We are to live into God’s promises, demonstrating by our actions that we believe them to be true.

Meanwhile, God waits for us — to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly as our trust in God grows day by day.

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