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Feb 27, 2013 | The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel

Rickel: Are We to Wait?

[Diolog MagazineWonder


That is what I was asked to write about, and I am sure, from the description I was given, it was to be a positive theme of some kind. I have some of those to write, but what kept coming back to me was more of a twist, a more challenging one. I could not help coming back to my “wonder” at just how much of our Christian culture we have lost. I have to “wonder” why we have not been more changed into different people. Someone asked me in a forum recently, after five years as a bishop, what was my most blessed thing, that thing I love the most about this work, and then, of course, what is the worst. The worst was that I “wonder” about why we Christians do not look that much different from the world? 


Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?  


That question from Matthew 2 was left to me in this past season of Advent by my spiritual director. She wanted me, on each day of Advent, to meditate on it. 


Are you the one to come, or are we to wait for another?   


She told me not to think of this in the abstract, as so often we are wont to do, not to allegorize it.  Of course, it is so simple and easy, especially with this question and passage, to leave the answer to Jesus, since that is whom it is addressed to in the first place. But she wanted me to refrain from that, to not let it go so easily.


She had a good point, and that began to wash over me as Advent went on. The “one that is to come” does need to be me—now—that is the point. I am not the only one, just as none of our fellow travelers of the Way are the only one, but I am one, called to be Christ in the midst of a world that could use it, whether it knows it or not.


As the Body of Christ now, the Church is the steward of that reality, the teacher, the guide, or at least it should be. Our community of faith is a base camp for training, nurturing, forming, conditioning and preparing to offer the Gospel life, a different way, to the world. As leaders in the Church, we are called to create that environment. 


The community of faith does not exist to sooth ourselves—to have yet another club to help us assimilate into this earthly life.  It exists to change us, and to call us. It exists to help us answer that haunting question—one that is ours to address. It is a question I have not left behind, and I continue to be in “wonder” about. 


Are you the one that is to come? Are you the one seeing that the lame, walk; the lepers are cleansed; the deaf, hear; the dead, raised; the lost, transformed; the despairing, loved?  Are you becoming Christ among us?  Not metaphorically, not as an abstract idea, but a living breathing, incarnated reality.  


Rickel is bishop of the Diocese of Olympia and former rector of St. James’, Austin. He will be a featured speaker at The Conference at Camp Allen, May 3-5, 2013, along with Bishop Doyle, the Rev. Bill Miller, the Rev. Bill Tully and the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams. See more about The Conference at: