March 26, 2012

March 26: Your King is coming

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By Anna Ruth, a senior English major from Harleysville, Pa.
SCRIPTURES THIS WEEK: Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; John 12:12-16; Mark 11:1-11

THEME THIS WEEK: Your king is coming

DEVOTIONAL:

Patience is certainly not my forte. Last spring, while living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during my semester abroad through the college’s Study-Service Term, I learned that I am not alone. Each morning, my commute to school began with a short ride on the daladala (minibus) to get to the ferry dock. Dar es Salaam is a coastal city, and I needed to cross an inlet of the Indian Ocean to reach downtown. At 6:15 a.m., the ferry dock is a chaotic mess of bicycles weaving through crowds of people running with school books or baskets of food on their heads. Everyone is desperate to catch the next ferry over, and nobody wants to wait – I didn’t, either.

When I finally made it through the throngs to the ticket booth, I paid my five shillings and steeled myself for the fight. Clutching my ticket and backpack close, I pushed my way through the tangle of shoving elbows into the enclosed pavilion where ferry passengers were corralled to wait. Being inside of this pavilion was one of my most stressful cross-cultural experiences; I will never quite understand the aggressive panic of the people inside, who have already managed to outrun their neighbors, pay for a ticket and find a spot to wait. Once inside the pavilion you were guaranteed a spot on the ferry, so why the merciless push and shove? Everyone wants to be the first out of the pavilion when the gate opens, presumably so that they can sprint to the front of the ferry and therefore be the first to disembark on the other side. Early on in the game, I figured out that there was no reason to join the fight to the front, but that didn’t make me immune to being thrown from side to side, pushed down by sweaty, muscular women carrying large loads, and even lifted from my feet and carried by the crowd. Still, the desperation is contagious; I didn’t want to be last, either. The wild, irrational fear of being left behind built every minute, until the gates opened and there was one final surge of aggression before everyone proceeded to walk calmly and reasonably out of the pavilion and up the ramp onto the ferry. Everyone made it on board, every time. Including me.

This frantic impatience seems silly – and it was. This week, as we contemplate the theme “Your King is coming,” I am reminded of the promise of Easter Sunday. The season of Lent is one of waiting, and our stamina is tested until the day of resurrection. Just like the chaos of the ferry pavilion in the morning, our energy is focused on the wait. But why the desperate impatience? At Easter, we are ensured the reward of the arrival of Christ, who relieves and renews our anxious hearts. This is a promise we can count on, every time. Patience and peace to all as we enjoy the wait in anticipation of the coming King.

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Comments (21)

  1. Anna, this is beautifully written. I’m a writer, too, and I so appreciate language that evokes feeling from me. Your piece certainly did that. Just wonderful, and a light, smart closing that ties in perfectly. And don’t misunderstand — I get the message in your piece, as well. I am committed to taking deep breaths at regular intervals today, which is full of deadlines and busy-ness. Thank you so much.

    Maureen March 26, 2012 |
  2. Anna, thank you so much for your thoughts and your story. When we enter each others’ story, we also enter their lives – Jesus taught us that better than anyone. You have helped me wait more patiently, and be that much more certain of the Resurrection that is coming.

    Deb Brubaker March 26, 2012 |
  3. A message I needed to hear this morning. I hate waiting, and I’m in the throes of that this week. Thanks for the reminder.

    Arlene Steffen March 26, 2012 |
  4. I enjoyed your description of the flurry or waiting for the ferry. A good picture of unnecessary impatience. I’m glad that our waiting for the King is filled with peace and assurance of fulfillment for all we long for.

    Ruth March 26, 2012 |
  5. A great message, Anna. I too struggle with patience at times. Your visual of the pushing crowds vs. the calm waiting for our guaranteed Christ is quite the contrast and serves as a needed reminder for me: slow down, breathe, enjoy. Thank you!

    Allison Goertz March 26, 2012 |
  6. Anna, I felt like I was right there in that pavilion with you! Wow, you are an amazing writer. Your message will stay with me as I “wait” to get many loose ends tied together. Easter is coming! Thank you!!

    Joyce Hunsberger March 26, 2012 |
  7. Thanks Anna, for taking me back on a trip to Africa. I served in Ethiopia 1946/48. I remember the impatience of the crowd. It is hard for me to wait but we have the promise, “Christ is coming.”

    Mary K March 26, 2012 |
  8. Anna,
    Your writing really pulled me into this devotional. Such rich descriptions. You have a gift. Thanks for sharing it.

    Lynn Sommer March 26, 2012 |
  9. While the lesson is definitely worth while, the distance you portray yourself from them worries me.

    It is important to contemplate and question other cultures, but questioning the motives of culture A to culture B doesn’t seem very helpful or useful to me; while questioning the motives of Culture A to the face of Culture A can be very enlightening and spurn discussions of issues that one would never have otherwise heard.

    Isaac March 26, 2012 |
  10. Great story, Anna. Vivid image of waiting for the certain.

    Trish March 26, 2012 |
  11. I was taken aback by the strength of your writing. The connection to the Easter meaning expands my understanding. Thank you.
    P.S. I’ve traveled often to the Far East and I’ve been put off by passengers rushing to the front of the line to get on the plane first. Next time, I’ll think patience.

    marjorie March 26, 2012 |
  12. Anna, your meditation, with your vivid African experience was so well-written. Having lived in Cote d’Ivoire, I could vividly visualize your trek to school. At this time in life, I do have more patience, but am filled with wonderment, and gratefulness for The King. Hosanna!

    Wilma Shank March 26, 2012 |
  13. I enjoyed your contribution! Experiencing Dar es Salaam as a schoolboy and college student, and other parts of Africa as a professional familiarized me with situations such as the one that you describe. One learns to navigate the crush to be among the first, but you have identified another important approach; learning to wait and cultivate patience.

    Dale March 26, 2012 |
  14. I enjoyed the devotion very much. The picture you paint is so real, I felt a part of it. I’m a “I want it now person,” so I could relatete to the actions of everyone. So fo a bin there….done that.

    I lost my 41 year old son recently, so I went through the were are you God Why did this happen thing. So thanks for the reminder-In His Time.. Happy Reserection morn.

    Kaye Fox March 26, 2012 |
  15. Thoughtful, well written and thanks for sharing your experience., of SST.
    Have a blessed Easter.

    Frank and Cara Ulrich March 26, 2012 |
  16. Are you home for Easter? Can you come and preach this at my church April 8?

    Dawn Ruth Nelson March 27, 2012 |
  17. Wow, Anna! Your writing took me right into that scene with you! Thanks for this little venture into another world for a few moments! It is such a great metaphor for the way we sometimes live–with needless impatience. Thank you!

    Shana Peachey Boshart March 27, 2012 |
  18. Nicely done Anna. Keep writing!

    Brenda Shelly March 27, 2012 |
  19. Anna, thanks for your story. You write so well! Thanks for the reminder to be patient and to remember that we will not be left behind.

    Cindy Stamm March 27, 2012 |
  20. Are you related to John and Roma Ruth?

    Barb March 30, 2012 |
  21. To Kaye (comment 14): I am sorry for your loss, and I admire your faith-filled response.

    Elizabeth S.O. March 31, 2012 |