Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick
house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.
"Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.
“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house. Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”
“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very
tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.
– A. A. Milne
Pooh and Piglet found Eeyore waiting - waiting to feel better, waiting for the “Not much fun to be around at all” feeling to pass. So, in the meantime, they showed him love.
It’s tempting sometimes to think that showing love in the midst of hardships needs to be a very active love - cleaning, cooking, fixing, DOING. Yet, very often, showing love in the midst of waiting or hardships simply means being present - saying “I will be with you.”
Our Advent theme for today is Love, and I love it. :) Particularly this year, it hit me about the importance of love in the midst of waiting...which is what we do during Advent. In remembrance of Jesus’ birth, we are waiting to celebrate Christmas; and, in assurance of Jesus’ kingdom to reign on earth, we are waiting for Jesus’ message and teachings to be fulfilled. We could certainly use all the love possible in that waiting.
In our Scripture selection today, we are shown love in waiting and being present...on two accounts. Last week, we heard from Mary’s perspective in Luke’s Gospel; this week, we hear from Joseph’s perspective in Matthew’s Gospel.
We see how Joseph was present in the waiting. AND we see how God was present. Both showing love. Joseph, though, may have had a little bit more struggle with it. He was human, after all. When he learns about Mary expecting a child, he was faced with a decision. Biblical scholars will debate about Joseph’s actions and thoughts at this point….was he going to “dismiss her quietly” out of fear of his own reputation being drug down? She would have faced huge repercussions in that time and society as an unmarried, pregnant woman, either way. That would have left her exposed as well.
Whatever his thoughts were, Joseph, after receiving the angel’s message, decides he will marry Mary - he decides that, in the waiting, he will sit by her and show love. Love that maybe wasn’t easy, but love that was divinely-inspired.
Joseph is told that the baby will be called Emmanuel, God is with us. God is with us! God is with us in the waiting. God is with us in the hardships. God is with us in our stick houses.
God is present!
Jesus, the baby we remember this season, is the embodiment of that promise! This is the Good News!
This is where we also see God being present in love in the waiting.
Jesus will bring the message and the example of living life with godly love - of being present with one another - of welcoming those whom others ignore - of standing against the
“norms” of society in order to show love to all.
And it’s already starting even as Jesus is in the womb! Joseph, by marrying a woman who is pregnant, is already living into Jesus’ later words “you have heard it said... but I say to you...” (Matt 5). (Kathryn Matthews, ucc.org, Sermon Seeds)
This entire situation is a foretaste of Jesus going against the norms and upending the status quo in order to display God’s love.
Joseph’s actions, staying with Mary and accepting Jesus as his son, display love in the midst of waiting...waiting through an unexpected pregnancy, waiting for the birth of a son,
waiting to see how families and friends will react.
God’s actions, being born in Jesus, display love in the midst of waiting...waiting with all of humanity until God’s ways rule this earth, waiting with us as individuals when we face hardships, waiting with God’s people as we learn to follow Jesus’ ways.
We, too, can display love in the midst of waiting. From displaying love while waiting in checkout lines to displaying love while waiting with a friend who is feeling “not much fun
to be around at all,” we can take God’s loving presence and pass it along to another.
After all, we’re all waiting for something, right? Where are you waiting currently? It’s probably in a number of areas in life - from very immediate events to perhaps far away.
Waiting for family to arrive.
Waiting for medical results.
Waiting to find love.
Waiting for the “not much fun to be around at all” feeling to go away.
Waiting for a better job opportunity.
Waiting for equality to be a reality for all.
Knowing that you are waiting for something (or many things) should be a reminder that other people are waiting as well.
I believe that Love is what sustains us and motivates us through the waiting.
Love may mean simply sitting with a friend, like Pooh & Piglet.
Love may mean going against society’s norms, like Joseph and Jesus.
It may mean a bit of both.
It is intentional and it is work. Even simply sitting with someone - it requires us to slow down, which for some of us is harder than staying busy.
This season I encourage us all to think of how we can display love in the midst of waiting.
Love sustains us through the waiting.
Love motivates us to work toward the end goal.
No matter if you feel like Eeyore, Pooh, Mary, or Joseph, I pray you feel God’s love and pass it along to others waiting along the journey. Amen.