Wineskins Archive

February 6, 2014

How Long? (Sep-Dec 2003)

Filed under: — @ 5:14 pm and

by Larry Bridgesmith
September – December, 2003

The following two-step monologue was used to illustrate how similar the worldviews of our age were to the age of Christ when believers had waited long for the appearance of the Messiah and the culture seemed in opposition to kingdom people imbued with a sense of pervading hopelessness.

How long, Yahweh?

(A “common man” dressed in the attire of a Jew living in Palestine in 4 BC appears in obvious distress.)

How long, Yahweh? This can’t be the way you want it to be. Your people living here in Palestine have not always had it so bad. When Simon Maccabbee revolted and brought freedom to the Jews our hopes soared. The foreign oppression and threat to our safety seemed remote for a time. But now Herod rules with a ruthless hand and immorality runs rampant among those who have authority over us. We are taxed without limit by a government that doesn’t know you or care for your people. Our lives are snuffed out for no reason and supporting ourselves and our families seems to become more impossible each year. Illness and death follow us like the empty purses we carry and the barren flocks we tend. There are some days that living seems more difficult than dying. Surely, that is not your will.

There was a time when our communities of faith were hopeful and happy places of refuge. Our towns and villages were populated by people who served you and worshiped you alone. Now many people with different ideas of faith surround us and seek to impose their notions about strange gods into our way of life. The Romans and the Greeks before them are intolerant of our belief in the one true God. We are derided for our worship of Yahweh. Surely, this cannot be your plan.

Once we were able to determine our own destiny. At one time we could build communities of faithful people worshiping you alone without ridicule or opposition. Things have changed Yahweh, and not for the better. Our enemies are within and without the very towns in which we live. They speak different languages, worship different gods and seem intent to destroy us.

Yahweh, you promised more. You promised life and deliverance from our oppressors. Oh Yahweh, how long must we wait?

How Long, Lord?

(A “contemporary man” in casual attire appears in obvious distress.)

How long, Lord? This can’t be the way you want it to be. America is falling to pieces. This country was founded out of a belief that you, God, are in charge of our people, our communities and our government. Our freedoms are under attack from without and within. What once seemed to be a country dedicated to Christian faith now cannot tolerate to hear your name spoken in public or even erected over our institutions of government. Violence runs rampant in the streets and immorality is promoted as the norm in all our media.

Our enemies seem to be winning, God. Terror is the constant refrain. War no longer vanquishes the enemies of our peace; it only spreads them out to rise up in unexpected and unprotected places. Safety is a myth in which we no longer find comfort.

Economic security is just as illusory. No amount of time on the job will make you feel safe. It actually seems the longer you work for a company the greater the likelihood they will find you “redundant.” Our faith in the stock markets is justifiably shaken. We should never have placed our trust there in the first place. But God, how long can we feel at risk? When can we regain our sense of security?

There was a time when our communities were safe places, our jobs could be counted on to provide us a comfortable retirement and our faith in you provided us a social advantage. No more.

Despite all that medicine and science have done, we feel increasingly at risk from disease and death. The next new plague seems just around the corner. The people we love die too early and hurt too long.

God, you promised an abundant life. We used to believe we enjoyed that promise. It’s all evaporated into fear and uncertainty. Oh Lord, how long must we wait?

The two men in the foregoing monologue series entered the stage from opposite sides and without intervening commentary helped the congregation understand the worldview of the first century Jew from the vantage point of the twenty-first century American.New Wineskins

Larry Bridgesmith

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