Finding time to wait
James 5: 7-10 (NRSVA)
7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
I once had the honour of going on a guided tour of Princes Road Synagogue in Liverpool as part of a local interfaith group. The history was fascinating and the interior striking. I am rather fond of Liverpool with its irrepressible sense of humour, salt in the air, swagger and grit speaking to my coastal heart. It’s a city that has been through a lot, done more, and is happy to tell you a story if you’ve got a minute, or maybe two…
The story of the resourcefulness, and resilience of the synagogue down the generations had a suitably Scouser ring to it and was told with characteristic warmth and enthusiasm. It was a story that featured a lot of waiting. Waiting for funds, for solutions, for construction. For instance, the money for the building abruptly ran short with the inside still to be decorated. So the women held a market and raised three grand (this is a Victorian three grand) and the synagogue was done out splendidly.
Tragically, in a later chapter of this building that shelters this vibrant community in this vibrant city… some people break into the synagogue and start a fire. The building survives but the interior suffers a lot of damage. Keen to restore what they can, the synagogue turns in vain hope to the company that originally carried out the painting, generations before, to ask for guidance. Are there any records they can work from?
It so happens the company still has the stencils.
And they are splattered with paint.
Now they can recreate the stunning interior, using the stencils and the paint left on them to find the right colours! Careful diligent craftspeople have unwittingly retained a ‘backup’ of the emotional weight of a beautiful stoic people in a beautiful stoic city – all the more beautiful and the more stoic for having such an important part of it restored and proudly resilient against the hate.
It took patience and love and care, and waiting, a whole lot of waiting, but restoration came.
Help us God to rediscover
the stencils of our lives
the patterns thought abandoned
that will bright light and colour back.
Help us to wait for goodness,
wait on one another
and wait on you.