I’m happy to admit that I am by nature impatient. I hate waiting and it seems like every time I line up in a checkout queue, or get put on hold, someone is out to help me learn patience. I think generally, our world is less patient. Speed is an asset in our culture. We have a lust for expediency. Orders from Amazon come faster. We eat fast food. Microchips in computers and phones get exponentially faster…but God is in no hurry!
Walking was the primary mode of transportation for Jesus. Most of his life took place in a small territory in Palestine. His public ministry spanned a region no further than 100 miles.
I love these four words from John 9:1: “As he passed by . . .” A great many events in the gospels happened, “as he passed by,” along the way. On the road. In the marketplace. Out in the countryside. By the city gate. On the shoreline, by the water. In a home, at the dinner table. Very little of Jesus’ ministry took place “at church,” in the temple. Jesus’ ministry happened while he walked, “as he passed by.”
A Japanese theologian named Kosuke Koyama wrote a book called Three Mile an Hour God. In it he wrote: “Love has its speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It goes on in the depth of life at 3 miles per hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore the speed the love of God walks.”
John 9:1 says, “As he passed by, Jesus saw a man blind from birth”. What if he was driving, running, or in a hurry? Instead, Jesus moved with a pace at which he could “see”. He saw the man. He saw his need and he had compassion. It can be difficult as the pace of the end of the year picks up, to contemplate slowing down. But that’s what Advent invites us to do. There were 400 years between the end of the OT prophets and the appearance of John the Baptist. We are invited to a mini-pause, of 4 weeks to trace again those ancient promises being worked out and fulfilled in God’s good time. Next time you in a busy shopping queue, or find yourself on hold, or are stuck in traffic, breathe, and reflect on the incarnate God who travels slowly enough to see and know each of us and our needs.
Pastor for Ministry and Formation