Waiting

Readings for this week April 27 – May 1
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – What Happens Now?

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 1:1-3

The book of the Acts of the Apostles is often seen as the history of the early church, the first record of what those first followers of Jesus did in the new post-resurrection world they found themselves in. And this is, no doubt, true in part. We do read a lot about those early followers and their attempts to be the community of God’s new covenant people, sharing the gospel with the wider world, both Jew and Gentile, guiding the gospel on its way from Jerusalem, out into Israel and from there into the wider world beyond, its road inexorable, its end preordained.

Well, not quite. We mustn’t think that they knew exactly what they were doing, or that they did it all on their own, under their own strength, within their own power. The beauty of the Acts of the Apostles is that it shows us a stumbling, awkward community of people striving to live up to God’s promise, often failing, but nevertheless always remaining open to being a conduit for the power of the Holy Spirit to transform their lives and the lives of others. As this happened they found themselves continually wrestling with questions: what does it all mean? Where to now? What is the next step? Jesus has come, he has died (horror of horrors), but God has raised him from the dead and now he sends us out to be his people in and for the world. They were no doubt asking themselves – “How on earth are we to do that?” Thankfully, a further answer was at hand.

Questions to Consider
What has been your experience of God throughout this lock down period? How have you felt his presence with you? What opportunities have there been to grow closer to him?

Prayer
Lord God, in this time it is reassuring to know that we are not alone and you are always with us. Thank you for your continued presence with us. Thank you for your constant faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Hurry Up and Wait

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 1:4-5

For many at the moment, life feels like being in some sort of horrible limbo. Going places is difficult and is actually discouraged unless it is for the necessities of life or for a job that is deemed essential. We keep our distance from others, most especially when we go out for walks or exercise. Some can work from home, some can take leave, some have lost work altogether. Times are strange and uncertain and full of fear, if not fear real and present now, then fear imagined or still to arrive, but nevertheless on the way. Under these circumstances, waiting is hard, planning is hard, believing is hard. Hope seems the most ephemeral of things for so many right now, so hard to see or hang on to.

But the waiting, as hard as it is, can be very important. The disciples found themselves in a very uncertain and dangerous situation, in a city not their own, targeted by the authorities, in fear for their lives. And yet even then, when their every instinct would have been crying out for them to get out, Jesus still told them to wait. There was something that needed to happen, someone who needed to come so that the work ahead could be done. Now they knew there was a reason for staying and waiting, and that the waiting was now a time for preparing. God was still with them. His plans and dreams for his people and his world were still in motion. Even this time of uncertainty and fear was a time in which the disciples could wait upon God, seek him, and ready themselves for whatever was coming next, however unknown it might be. God was with them.

Questions to Consider
How might this time be preparation for you? For what? What might God be saying to you?

Prayer
Loving Father, you are that still small voice that speaks to me. Help me listen for you attentively and faithfully, no matter the circumstances. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Call is the Same

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 1:6-8

Change is difficult. It can be a very hard thing to cope with or experience or endure, whether actively looked for and embraced or not. Our world and circumstances may have changed dramatically. God’s heart hasn’t. As tumultuous as things may seem right at this moment, the one constant that there is, the one thing that can always be relied upon no matter the circumstances we face, is God and his love for us. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, regardless of what befalls us. He can be trusted to be there.

And the message to us hasn’t changed either. He is still with us, still guiding us, individually and collectively, by the promptings and nudgings of his Spirit. And the call of God that we responded to is still the same today. Right from the beginning the Holy Spirit calls us to be witnesses right here at home, in our communities and streets, in our local spaces and homes, but also in ever increasing circles spreading out from this point, into the areas and regions of our country and right across the entire world. Every home and community and region and nation is to be brought under the umbrella of his love. And we are the ones called to open this umbrella and take its protection and shelter to others. This is God’s love, a love for the whole world. God’s heart is for the poor, the downtrodden, the abandoned, the marginalized, the lonely and lost. Where his heart is, so our hearts must be too.

Questions to Consider
What does being part of a community look like when you can’t meet together? How can we still reach out to others at this time?

Prayer
Almighty God, inspire us to new ways of community, new ways of loving our neighbours and the world, even at a distance. Show us how to love like we haven’t yet dreamed we could, but that you know we can. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – The One Constant

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 16

In this psalm, the psalmist celebrates the sustaining, life-giving connection that he has with his God. God is his “portion and lot” (verse 5), the one who is also strong before him, the one through whom a guaranteed inheritance will one day come. For the psalmist, so for us: God is the one who holds the very beat of life within us, who sustains us and guides us. God is the one who guards us and protects us, the one who walks with us, the one from whom all life and goodness come, the one in whom grace and peace and love abound. There is nowhere to flee to, no one else to go to, nothing else on earth or in all of existence that is as trustworthy and certain as God and the promises he has made to always be with his people.

And because of the absolute certainty of God’s goodness and kindness, and his continuing presence with us through his Spirit, there is no need for us to be shaken or cast down or afraid. We can bring our cares and concerns for ourselves, each other and the world to him, just as we have always done – indeed, just as we always must do. He awaits our prayers, all the while stirring within us the things that need our attention, the people and places and tasks he calls us to. He is with us. He calls us on the way, walks with as we go, and leads us on into the way ahead. He is speaking. He is constant. He is there. He is here.

Question to Consider
How in particular has God been your constant support and strength lately? What have you been seeking him for during this time?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, may we unlearn lip service to your constancy and the certainty of your presence. May we, if we have not already, truly know what it is for you to always be there for us and with us, when we are mindful of you and when we are not. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Prayer When Waiting

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 27

The Waiting Prayer

Heavenly Father, attend your child who waits but knows not why nor truly how to wait.

Teach me the ways of patient waiting, for those words you would drop into my ear, my heart, my soul.

Give me peace to ignore the slide of the seconds across my skin, to disregard the minutes crying out to be filled, the days that stretch ahead.

Awaken me to here and now. Let me not run from it or deny it or avoid it. This, now, is still the day that you have made.

Show me the work there is today. Guide me in your ways today. Fill me with your Spirit today. This day matters.

Keep me on the narrow way. Though I see a better path, lead me not away towards harmful and foolish shortcuts.

There is more to see here than my eyes can take in, more to do than my hands can find, if only I will stop and stay and wait and listen.

Your future awaits me. I cannot see it yet, but please help me learn to long for it as urgently as you long to show it to me.

Remind of the things that I am really waiting for. Peel away my illusions and show me the things for which you drew me near.

You are here. I am here. We wait together, you for my stillness and silence, me for your presence and guidance.

Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)