The Blessedness of Waiting

Published on Sep 6th, 2018 by wpd-office | 0
The Blessedness of Waiting

The “Blessedness of Waiting”

Good friendships are rare.  A 2015 Psychology Today article, “The 13 Essential Traits of Good Friends,” suggests three broad categories to consider: integrity, caring, and congeniality. In these areas reside qualities that foster healthy relationships, qualities that include empathy, loyalty, trustworthiness and dependability.

Religion in general is guilty of hijacking these lofty elements from time-to-time and claiming them solely as their own, a self-serving need to cloak them in all things religious.  An individual might personify the best qualities of humankind and still fall short if they don’t pray the right prayer, recite the proper creed, or declare the most standard doctrine.

The essential traits named in the article are traits which Christians should heartily endorse no matter who claim ownership.  We prefer to distinguish our own brand of religious following while dismissing others that are surprisingly similar.   It is little wonder that people looking from the outside in avoid the church in droves.  As many answers as religious institutions offer, there are hundreds more questions that remain unanswered.  There exists for many a deep desire and hunger to entertain those questions, but asking draws unwelcome degrees of risk, exposure, and condemnation, a theological cost to the church and individual alike.

We are impatient adherents to a faith that does not provide easy answers. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer notes that impatience.

“The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, 2011)

The church reveals itself as an impatient companion, one that is eager to talk rather than listen, to walk apart from rather than walk with, and to be a willing accomplice in the dismissal of the sincere beliefs of others for spurious reasons.

How we view scriptural authority is at the heart of most disputes within and outside the church.  Shall we condemn each other for one particular view over another? What degree of sincerity will suffice in order to qualify our positions?

Literalists will not fundamentally change the hearts of progressives.  Neither will non-literalists manage to coerce fundamentalists to new vistas of openness.  Each imagines themselves as guardians of truth.  The answers are incomplete for both.

Claiming identity in Christ undergirds the mission of the church, but in the church’s eagerness resides a disquiet that is neither helpful nor calming.  Stridency pervades today’s culture, something from which even the church cannot escape. Religion in general and Christianity in particular, has tacitly embraced this harshness as acceptable. It is not.

There remains a voice to be heard that is neither left nor right, progressive nor conservative, evangelical nor staid.  It is the voice that embodies Bonhoeffer’s  “blessedness of waiting,” a voice that remains unafraid to question, query, and live out a faith that has yet to be fully revealed, a patient voice that declares that, until then, we shall aspire to “be good friends who love deeply.” (Romans 12:10a, MSG)  It is a voice that will change the religious landscape in immutable, enduring, and endearing ways, if only we are blessed and patient enough to wait.


Ken Frantz
Leadership Team Chair


Ken pens a weekly column, “Fearless Faith,” that is published weekly in two northeast Colorado newspapers.  The goal of the column is to encourage others to engage in theological reflection and discussion, whether they claim membership in a church or not, while challenging conventional Christianity to grow beyond its own self-centeredness.  His nearly 600 columns entertain such diverse topics as kingbirds, kitchen faucets, and horseradish, all with a nod to The Divine.

Ken is a non-salaried ordained pastor serving the Haxtun (CO) Church of the Brethren. He lives with his family near Fleming, CO.  Comments are always welcome.  


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