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Wait for it…Waaaait for it…

CrossOver reflection for Good Friday • April 19, 2019
We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 32b

Rev. Jenny Willison Hirst

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’ ” – Luke 22:44-46

I was listening to the live stream closing comments of General Conference 2019 (GC) on the way to the final meeting of my day. Flying M Coffee House is one of my favorite “offices” and Robert and I were to meet for a late afternoon coffee. Robert is part of the Rainbow Connection, an LGBTQ small group I hold in my home on Wednesday nights and co-lead with several others. 

As I drove through the streets of Boise, I was numb and then angry and then filled with dread.  You see, Robert has been feeling the call to ministry for some time, and as he has found community and love in our small group and at church, he has begun to express, out loud, God’s call in his life, and his desire to serve God and God’s people more deeply. Our meeting was to talk about how he might respond to this call. The irony of the GC decision moments before my time with him was not lost on me.  

As I sat across the table from him, my anger and anguish boiled inside and presented as tears. I apologized for this news—this news that our gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer brothers and sisters know all too well. And Brian McLaren’s words, “Could there be any meaning in the catastrophe playing out before us now?” rang true.

Robert gently comforted me and wasn’t deterred by the news. His joy and hope in finally being able to express that he felt God calling him into ministry overshadowed the very decision made at GC meant to send a message that his call would not be recognized. We laughed and schemed and planned for what his next steps might be. In that space, I know for certain, I experienced Christ’s forgiveness, love, and hope. 

My final stop of the day was to the NICU where I was to see my good friend and her new baby. She had come into my life in October through refugee resettlement, a single mother of five with one on the way. Her strength and faith in God continue to be, to this day, the most profound of anyone I’ve ever known. Baby Zoe, whose name means “life within me,” was born six weeks early and it would be the first time I would see him.

I entered her hospital room and she greeted me saying, “Come see the baby! Come see Zoe!”  You would never have known by her pace and stride down the hallway that she had just given birth!  As we entered the room where Zoe was being carefully watched, I witnessed the beautiful beginning of a baby being nourished and loved by his mother’s breast for the first time. 

How can this be? To experience the helplessness of a hate-filled decision in one moment, grace and forgiveness in the next moment, and then witness fully God’s blessing of new life and new hope in the presence of a tiny human freshly made in the image of God. 

And so we come to another Good Friday. Another reminder of the violence and hate meant to kill God’s message of love. And we must take time to lament and feel the weight of human decisions and actions that attempt to thwart God’s movement.

But we also know the end of the story. As I hold Luke’s words of Jesus’ reminder to his disciples in the garden that night, I’m reminded to not let the exhaustion of sorrow or bitterness overtake me. God is in the spaces between two people having coffee and grieving and finding hope all at the same time. God is in the spaces between a friend who is starting a new life and has given birth to new life. Maybe during those times of prayer in the midst of grief and hopelessness, God is saying, “Wait for it…Waaaait for it…” (thank you Barney from the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”).

I pray that as we remember Good Friday and the violence determined to silence God’s Good News for all, that we also hear Jesus’ voice to pray and to keep our eyes open for the miracles of healing and hope and forgiveness that are coming next. 

Rev. Jenny W. Hirst is a provisional Deacon, with primary appointment at LEAP Charities and secondary appointment serving Collister UMC in Boise. Jenny was recently married (NYE!) and is grateful for love and life with husband Mark and their five grown children. 

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