Take a breath; you’ve earned it. If you’ve come this far through the experience with Job, then you are to be commended. But we’re not quite done. There is a sense that we can take it easy with this happy ending kind of text. The problem is that just might undo a lot of the good work that you have done in this series. It would be good to resist the easy answer, the “it’ll all work out in the end” kind of theme that might be seen as a denial of the depth of human suffering. Yes, of course, we hope and pray for resolution and restoration. But there are those in your congregation or in your neighborhood who will not have the experience of restoration. We must continue to stand in solidarity with those who are hurting. Even those who have come through a time of trial still bear the scars and ought not be dismissed as a happily ever after ending.
So, what do we do in worship this week? We give thanks, even as we wait for the coming of the kin-dom. This is an Advent-like moment to embrace the now and the not yet in tension or in coexistence. We celebrate new life and new hope, even as we grieve death and loss. We point toward the glimpses of grace at work in our community, even while we confess the times “we have failed to be an obedient church” as the traditional liturgy states. So, we sing the praises of a God who answers prayer, even while we continue to call upon the Spirit to bring justice and an end to hate.
Whenever we worship, we worship in this tension. It is not an end to joy, or the laughter of the redeemed. But it is a reminder that we are pilgrims on the way, disciples making disciples for the transformation – not the transformed, but the ongoing transformation – of the world. We embrace the mission with hope and a glimpse of the kin-dom.
When Job’s eyes were opened to the totality of God, he was humbled. We too are humbled by the immensity of the need, but we are also lifted by the power of love of the God we worship. The Spirit works with us and through us; let us offer ourselves as willing vessels of that grace.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.