Rev. Adam Kelchner is the Associate Pastor at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Adam is a former Bailey Scholar from Randolph-Macon College.
In a very rural village named Mikundi situated on the western border of Malawi, Africa, I pointed toward the window of the church. With my leather bound Bible in one hand, and my index finger outstretched toward the window, I told my congregants for the morning that the banana trees on the farm property are a sign of resurrection. Yes, banana trees are a sign of resurrection for those who live and work at the United Methodist farm owned by the Malawi Annual Conference. Last October, a wildfire ripped across the fields burning down nearly every living plant on the farm property. The earth was scorched; but the rains came in their due time in abundance. “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.”
In the electronic, fast paced world in which I spend most of my time, it took being 8500 miles away from home, preaching in a village church to identify how precious it is when the growing season yields new fruit and vegetation. I think every good farmer understands the need for patience when working with the earth. So here we are, a few days before Christmas, and we’re waiting. We’re waiting for new life to take root. We’re waiting for the first signs of a bud breaking forth through dry ground. We’re waiting for the Blessed Christ child!
The promise of our liturgical celebration at the Lord’s Table is: Christ will come again. Indeed! Until that day, we have the example of the ancient prophets to teach us patience and the virtue of long-suffering.
Just over a year ago, horrendous violence ripped through an elementary school in Connecticut cutting short the lives of children and teachers. That day cast a long shadow on the church’s Advent celebrations and the lives of my congregants 960 miles away from Newtown, Connecticut. For the prophetic moms, dads, congregants, and fellow pastors in my community, December 14th was another atrocious event in the journey toward God’s justice and peace.
I’ve accompanied these prophets whose patient hearts are broken by delayed justice and whose spirits suffer when armed violence destroys sacred life. Prophets are speaking, patient and strong in hope, “for the coming of the Lord is near.”