Waiting for Sophie: A Reflection for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Shortly before I left for a planned trip for a trip to see my son Andrew and daughter-in-law Jessica in Lexington last Wednesday, I received some very welcome news.  My wife Ginger, who was already in Lexington, called to say that Jessica was in labor.  I literally wept at the thought that the long-awaited granddaughter might be there by the time I landed or at least soon afterward.  Not yet it turns out.  False alarm. 

So we continue to wait.  It is hard on Ginger and me, but it is a thousand times harder on Jessica and Andrew.  Waiting.  Patience.  These are things I’ve never been good at.  Sophie is already teaching me to see them in a new way.  For one thing, I have come to see Moses in a new way.

God brought Moses to the very edge of the Promised Land and took Moses to the top of Mount Nebo, just across the Jordan River from Jericho.  Moses could see the whole land from that vantage point. He could probably smell it. He could almost touch it.  He could almost taste it.  It was not to be. 

“The LORD said to [Moses], ‘This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.’”  (Dt. 34:4) 

Moses died without seeing what he had given so much to accomplish come to be.  “Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord's command.”  (v. 5)  He was buried in an unmarked grave.  I have always seen this as terribly unfair of God, that Moses was not allowed to cross over into he Promised Land.  If anyone earned the right to do that, it certainly would have been Moses. 

Sophie has already taught me to see that differently.  All this waiting.  Now, I fully expect to see Sophie arrive and I expect to walk with her for a while.  I hope a long while.  I hope, referring back to Moses, for a metaphorical 40 years.  But I do not expect to enter into the Promised Land with her.  That is reserved for others, for those who come after.  It is not a matter of fairness.  It is a matter of the long haul.  And that is what I’m learning from little Sophie.

Father-son-granddaughter.  One generation follows another.  Former generations do not see where those who follow will lead.  All that we need to know is that it all leads, inexorably, to the Promised Land.  God takes the long view.  We may not see the Promised Land.  It is enough to know that the entry of those who come after us is inevitable, at least at some point, because that is what God has promised.  I don’t need to see it myself.  I just need to know it is coming.  Sophie has come to represent to me both God’s promise and God’s guarantee. 

For now, though, we wait.  I am no more patient than ever.  I am, though, more hopeful.


Bishop Stacy Sauls