1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NRSV
It may be my favorite book to read to my children during the season of Advent. It’s not a “typical” Advent or Christmas story. There’s no star in the sky, no angels singing to shepherds, no baby in the manger. (My children do have plenty of those books, too — they are pastor’s kids, after all.) It’s not a religious children’s book at all. It’s an Elephant-and-Piggie book by children’s book author extraordinaire Mo Willems, a book called Waiting Is Not Easy.
Waiting is not easy. That’s why I read it to my children during the season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting, eager waiting, excited waiting, even impatient waiting. It’s not easy, when you’re so young, to wait for Christmas. So this Elephant-and-Piggie story about waiting seems the perfect fit for Advent.
In the book, Piggie has a surprise for his elephant friend Gerald… but Gerald has to wait for it. And wait. And wait. And Gerald finds all this “waiting” to be very, very difficult. Piggie assures Gerald that all the waiting will be worth it… and by the end of the story, as Gerald views the surprise — a sky full of glittering stars — Gerald discovers that Piggie was right. This was worth the wait.
Such a great story for the season of Advent, isn’t it? But it’s a good story for this season, too. We’re in a season of waiting… and unlike Advent, we don’t have a definite end date in sight. There are no candles to light, no chocolate calendars to open, no countdowns to check off the calendar. The open-ended nature of this pandemic wakes this season of waiting all the more difficult. When will this coronavirus crisis be behind us? we wonder. When can we go back to school? to work? to church?
In God’s good time, I suppose… though even I can admit that’s not the most satisfying answer. “For everything there is a season,” scripture reminds us… and right now, we’re in a season of pausing, of staying, of waiting.
I don’t know when the waiting will be over. I don’t know when we’ll be back in church together, or what that will even look like. But I imagine that on that day, we’ll discover what Gerald discovers… it will be worth the wait.
Friends, I cannot wait.
So enjoy the story. I’ve shared it here with all the kiddos — and all you kids-at-heart, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLlzCgyhIKc&feature=youtu.be
Enjoy the story, and as you do, don’t lose sight of the greater truth:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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