7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. 8 You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness.
This year we planted the Church’s garden to produce a harvest of vegetables to make soup for those in need. It was an exercise in patience and perseverance. Preparing the soil, sowing, weeding, watering and waiting, mostly waiting for the harvest, were involved. Each plant matured in its time and was eagerly harvested, prepared and then frozen. Then the freezer failed, and we lost part of the long awaited crop that so many had worked to make happen.
We were disappointed and now we’re short on the vegetables we need to make soup. Rather than give up, we’ll find a way to make up the loss, we’ll work together and persevere. The soul soup project will continue and people will rise to the occasion with donations of supplies and vegetables that volunteers will turn into soup. As we work together, God will strengthen us so we will not lose heart.
The writer of James is writing 50-60 years after Jesus’ death to Christians that have been persecuted and scattered far from Jerusalem. While they have been patiently awaiting the imminent return of Jesus, a rift has developed in the churches because the rich are exploiting the poor for their own gain, rather than sharing the wealth (James 5:1-6). The poor want justice.
The church, persecuted from the outside, is starting to split apart on the inside, with members complaining and judging each other. If this sounds familiar it’s because this isn’t just a first century problem, this is a timeless greed problem. James urges us, who are called to share our resources and care for those in need, to strengthen our resolve and to persevere; to not allow adversity to divide us. James calls on the poor to not give up, they are promised that Jesus is coming and they will have justice.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Like the early Christians, we too are patiently waiting in the hope of Christ’s return. James calls us to be patient and persevere in adversity while serving God, and sharing our resources with others. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism said we are to “Gain all you can, save all you can and to give all you can.” How are we as a faith community working together, relying on God, while persevering in adversity? This Advent, how can we work with our church to share our resources to help those in need?
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, help us to wait patiently persevering in times of adversity, as a community united by your love. Open our eyes to see that together, we can make use of our resources to serve you and help others. In the name of Jesus, Amen.