Based on Luke 12: 32-40
A few months ago, I caved into peer pressure and spent the twelve dollars to take the enneagram test. Turns out, I am a six which is labelled as the Loyalist. Like all of the categories in the enneagram, there are positive attributes and less positive attributes. For example, the first paragraph describing the Loyalist reads:
Type Six exemplifies the desire to create a stable, safe environment, to cooperate and create with others, and to be adequately prepared for the various difficulties that life presents. Sixes are meticulous, disciplined, and persevering. They are good with details, and they have a talent for seeing potential problems and dealing with them before problems get out of hand. They organize resources, prioritize tasks, and see projects through…They enjoy being of service and really want to contribute to the world. They bring reliability, responsibility, hard work, and a sense of honor to all their affairs. They approach others as if to say, “I am here for you. You can count on me.”
This sounds pretty good, so good, in fact, that you decide to keep reading thinking that any description such as this would be exempt from weakness. An assumption that proves shockingly inaccurate. The second paragraph deflating any sense of superiority that may have arisen in the first.
Sixes do their best to be solid and responsible, but they are often troubled by an undercurrent of doubt and anxiety. In fact, Sixes often seem a bit jittery and uneasy in general. They live in a state of worry—and then find something to worry about. They often “scan” their surroundings for problems, expecting that something negative could happen at any time. Consequently, they are usually careful about the management of their affairs, and generally cautious in their dealings with others.
Realizing each paragraph to be equally true, the newly indoctrinated enneagram fanatic would do well to stop after reading the first paragraph.
I did not need to take the enneagram test to know that trust is not my strong suit. Trust in people, the weather, ingredients on a package, the gas light in my car, directions on the GPS, teachers, preachers, and, obviously, politicians, are received with a belief that there might be a ten percent chance they know what they are talking about. Since no one ever seems to know what they are talking about, it’s hard to have much trust and to ultimately live with less fear that catastrophe is just around the corner. I hear what Jesus is saying with the whole “do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” but, honestly, has he met these other sheep?
Then there’s the whole kingdom issue. For example, what is this kingdom, and do I even want to receive it? I’m really not sure. I want to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt but, really, where is it located and who lives there? It would also be nice to know when we will receive it and how it will be received. Like will we all be receiving it together or is it more of a first come first serve thing? Is this whole kingdom thing a group project or an independent study because I’m fairly certain it’s a group project and that definitely explains why a collective Christmas morning for the kingdom hasn’t arrived yet.
Not to be critical, because I am like at least 10% sure Jesus knows what he is doing, but it would be helpful if Jesus could create a brochure or maybe a promotional video about the kingdom so my anxieties could be less around generalities and more focused on the specifics. Then I could prepare and, perhaps more importantly, instruct other people on how I think they should prepare. This would make partnerships easier, in my humble opinion. Partnership with Jesus, with other people, with outside organizations. Because, in all honesty, most of the time it is hard to know what we are preparing ourselves, our churches, our communities for in our “master’s” house. It feels like he has been out for a long time, and, while I am not advocating for Jesus to come home and end every thing, I wouldn’t complain if Jesus could come home and end some things. I’m just going to say what some of us are probably thinking or have thought at some point in our lives; maybe Jesus isn’t coming back. Maybe we are alone and maybe cleaning up this mess and getting these other hooligans in check is up to us.
In the context of our scripture, we have been left home alone for quite some time now. Anxiously waiting on a planet wondering and prophecising about when our Creator will come home. And, as any person who has ever had the experience of anxiously waiting for a parent to come home after the “small get together” turned into an out of control all-nighter, it is much better if we don’t have to wait alone. If there is a partner to share the burden of the wait and the experiencing of natural consequence. Waiting in the anxious unknown is done best in partnership.
To partner with The Land, is not to partner around certainties, but to cooperate around deep and challenging questions. The Land is planted in the deep belief that we are already at home with our Creator. The Land is a challenge to reread the narrative of the kingdom and to reimagine who left who and who is being called to return to whom. The Land suggests that perhaps it is not the Creator who left us, but it is us who left the Creator. When we surrounded our worship with walls and drowned out the saving grace of God’s creation with the sounds of our solutions. Perhaps, it was the fear of feeling alone responsible for wandering so far into our anxieties, so far away from our insecurities, that we forgot which house it was that we were called to be dressed and waiting for our “master’s” return.
Partnering only works if two people or organizations are tethered together with a common purpose; the end goal is mutually beneficial and the work to get there is mutually dependent. Two entities evolving together around shared values toward a common goal. The fusion happening not in the stagnation of the relationship, but in the durability created as two independent entities evolve in the same direction for a common purpose. The tricky part is, contrary to how many religious and secular groups act, no one truly knows where we should end up or when we should end up there. There is no map to the kingdom. No timeline on where Jesus is exactly or when he plans to come back.
Herein lies the opportunity. To trust in what we do see in the actions of one another as the presence of Christ. To witness resurrection right here in this place in each generous interaction, in each gentle exchange. We do not need a map to wake up to the presence of the Creator in Creation. We do not need a timeline to wake up to the presence of Christ in the embodiment of one another. It will be in the curiosity of the skeptical waiter, that we answer questions that others never thought to ask. It will be following the preserving doubter, that will lead us to wander in direction others never believed were options. It will be in the waiting space of doubt and wonder that we will find Jesus waiting just outside the door of our understanding. Waiting in the questions. Waiting for the wanderers.