Third Week of Advent: Patience
by Abby Brockway
James 5:7-8 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 late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.
As we read this text in the third week of Advent, we are preparing; we are hopeful, and we wait. In ancient Israel, the dry-land farmers had to rely on the rains to water their crops. The farmers did everything they could to prepare their fields, and they realized they were not in complete control – they hoped and expected that rain would come.
We who care for creation are the dry-land farmer. In Washington and Oregon alone, we have seen more than 25 fossil fuel infrastructure projects seeking permits. Out of concern, hundreds of thousands of citizens participated in public hearings and raised questions about the impacts.
On the one hand, several of these proposed projects would be developed in struggling communities that desperately need jobs. On the other hand, we recognize that this infrastructure would have irreversibly long term effects on the environment.
While the need is urgent, these resistors have had to exercise great patience – the kind of patience described in James. If, six years ago, we saw the work to be done in order to defeat 25 massive fossil fuel projects, we would not have believed that it was possible to influence even one of those projects.
During Advent, we remember where hope comes from. To move mountains, we do what the dry-land farmers do. We prepare the soil and sow the seeds; we are patient. We tend the garden even when the weather forecast is bleak. We stop worrying about the outcome and do what is required to cultivate our land. We realize we are partnering with a radical, illegitimate homeless, baby boy who came and will come like the long-awaited rains.
Prayer: God of hope, we thank you for the life-giving rain. Thank you for the earth that you have entrusted us to care for. We see the dry land and we worry. Guide us as we struggle to know how we each are called to prepare for, and be ready for the rains. In Jesus' name -- Amen.
Abby Brockway is a ruling elder at Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. She is a member of the Delta5 - a group that committed an act of civil disobedience. They were charged with trespassing and blocking an oil train. They went to trial and tried the necessity defense in court because they believed their act was necessary to prevent a greater harm.