The readings from today remind me very much of the words from Psalm 118 that Elizabeth I was said to have uttered as she sank to her knees under a great oak tree at Hatfield Palace, having just received the news that her half-sister, Mary I, was dead and that she was now Queen of England.
“This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvellous in our eyes”.
The twenty-five year old daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, rose above her illegitimacy and the taint of being an alleged traitor’s daughter to be a great queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Gloriana. Arguably one of the greatest monarchs that Great Britain has known, and certainly one of the most famous.
This morning, I was talking to the children at Buckland school about patience, and waiting for the right time – that moment when all the preparing and waiting and hard work come to fruition, and the thing we have been working, watching, and waiting for comes into being. Simply, naturally, as if it was always meant to be. And yet how many months, sometimes years, of planning and preparation have gone into that wonderful happening that we have longed for?
The Psalm continues, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Whether that day is the Sabbath – the day of rest – or the day when freedom comes to the prisoner who has been held in long captivity; the day when healing comes to the one who has suffered chronic pain for so long; the day when all our hopes and dreams come true; the day when we stand tall and proud and joyful in success. All these days are the gift of God, who has worked with us in making this thing happen.
Waiting is not something that comes easily to us, especially in the age of technology, instant online gratification, and next-day delivery. But whether we experience that waiting or not, it must happen. Creation of anything takes time. Creation of beauty and wonder can take a lot of time.
In Luke’s gospel for this Sunday, Jesus reads the prophet Isaiah, speaking of the coming Messiah. He then tells them, this has come true in their presence this day. This Messiah wasn’t what they expected. This Messiah wasn’t packaged how they wanted him. And so they did not recognise him, despite having as a nation longed and prayed and waited for God’s promise for centuries.
Whatever it is that you have been longing for, know that it is growing and unfolding unseen in the metaphorical ground of your life. It may not flower or fruit exactly as you thought. But be in no doubt that it will be exactly what you most needed. And may you rejoice and be glad in it, may you take joy and rest in that experience, knowing that ‘this is the Lord’s doing’ and that the timing of it is ‘the day that the Lord has made.’