Josh Medlock, Director of Student Ministries
This has been a year like no other. Not only for me, not only for you, but for the entire world.
We have all been in a state of suspension since early this year.
Waiting, watching and wondering what comes next.
I look back to March and here is what I remember.
I remember waiting for Bee, my oldest child, to return from choir tour.
The Pure Joy! Youth Choir went to St. Louis this year and they were returning by train.
I waited and wondered if any of our youth would catch the new coronavirus on this trip.
They shut down the trains two days later.
I remember when the decision came to close our church.
I waited and wondered how long this would last and what it would mean for our congregation.
We planned and prepared, but none of us imagined it would be December and we would still be waiting.
I look back to this summer and here is what I remember.
I remember waiting and wondering if our Bridgeport Junior and Senior High trips would be postponed, reduced in size or canceled altogether.
Would our mission trip to the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Louisiana be canceled?
All three were canceled, with Bridgeport offering only virtual curriculum.
I remember waiting each week to see if our First Youth summer activities would go on or be canceled.
We did not meet.
I look back to this Fall and Winter and here is what I remember.
I remember waiting each month for word from Dallas County and our bishop on when we could gather again for in-person worship.
Waiting each day to see what would come next.
I remember waiting and wondering who would be elected president of the United States.
I remember waiting to see what a virtual Night in Bethlehem would look like.
I remember waiting.
I felt like all this waiting was causing me to stay in one place too long.
It was almost as though I was standing in quicksand or a bog that had reached up a twisted root of some unseen tree and snared my ankles.
I felt like I was sinking.
I found myself not waiting anymore.
It wasn’t necessarily that I had given up. It was just that I didn’t really see the point of waiting anymore.
I accepted where we are in the world and resigned myself to the knowledge that whatever was going on was bigger than me, and that all of this waiting was just causing me anxiety and stress.
So I quit waiting and started moving toward the future.
I started moving past all of this.
I started wondering what things will be like when the pandemic, the election, the struggles and the civil unrest settle.
I wanted to just get moving again. To leave all this behind and quit waiting.
Then I remembered something Pastor Caroline Noll taught me.
She taught me about the “U.”
Do you remember the U?
It is the journey we take in life and our faith that leads to transformation through our experiences by embracing that part that is difficult and hard.
It is the realization that God is with us at the bottom of the U.
The bottom of the U is an uncomfortable place to be and can be extremely difficult for some.
But transformation happens there. God shows up.
Sometimes I forget that God shows up.
Just like in Bethlehem, God shows up in unexpected ways.
I was so focused on things that didn’t happen that I stopped focusing on things that were happening.
Our online worship is reaching people we have never met that have been waiting to find a church home.
Our online Sunday School gatherings are giving our congregation the opportunity to see each other every week regardless of where they are in the world.
Some of these members have been waiting for months to see each other because of medical conditions or living circumstances.
Our children are able to sing together.
Our youth are able to journey together in fellowship and discussion.
Our ministries of outreach are still reaching people who have been waiting for help.
God shows up. God always shows up.
Advent is all about waiting.
The world was waiting for God and God showed up in the form of a child.
Nothing was ever the same again.
When we follow the ministry of Jesus we see things play out in ways the world did not expect.
The world had become so bogged down and stuck in the waiting that it wasn’t prepared when God showed up.
If you are like me and find yourself uncomfortable with the waiting, remember those in the world around you who are also waiting.
How can we reach them? How is God calling us to show up?
The world waited and God showed up in a child.
We wait now, together, and my friends, God is here waiting with us.