In pm's words
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October 3, 2016, 7:58 AM

the one where we have faith in God's long game...


Sermon from October 2, 2016

Text: Habakkuk 1: 1-4, 2: 1-4

Grace and peace to you form God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ. Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, this past week has been rougher than usual. At least in my personal life. I have a friend who is struggling with cancer and dealing with an insurance company that won’t approve the coverage of the treatment doctors believe he needs to survive and fight. Another friend valiantly lost her battle with cancer this week. She was a good one and someone I’ll remember greatly. Then there was the news this week of a shooting in South Carolina at an elementary school. More shootings, more protests, more looking into the mirror as a nation in where we hold those prejudices that prevent us from hearing and listening to those most deeply hurt and afflicted. I also was witness to the debate this past Monday and then witness to the hate, vitriol, and sniping back and forth not only between candidates, but between those who support them.

It’s been a rough week.

And then, I got to read Habakkuk. And let’s just say, my mood didn’t quite improve.

Habakkuk is a pretty short book from one of the ‘minor’ prophets in our early scriptures. He lived between the fall of the Jewish kingdom and the first exile of his people into Babylon. He was there to speak to the people as a mouthpiece of God as an army continued to march its way towards them. To drive them out of their land, and push them further and further away.

Habakkuk lamented.

We got to read this morning the first part of that lament. The rest of the lament isn’t much different. A cry out to God with the underlying question of “Why, O Lord?” Why does this happen – why is this happening? Do you not care? Are you not able or capable of seeing?

Habakkuk laments.

We lament too. I lament.

We join in with Habakkuk and we too cry out to God as we live through this life. This life where at times it seems in line with Habakkuk when he writes, “you have made people like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler.”

Habakkuk’s lament - our lament - ultimately rests in the question, “God do you not care?”

Death stands at our doors. Fighting and violence erupt. The people don’t listen to one another. Where is the care for those who are in need? Why do the good ones die so young?

Habakkuk laments.

We lament as well.

Then, the prophet seems to take a deep breath and states, “I will stand, I will keep watch. How will God respond to me?”

And God responds.

God responds in the way that at times I don’t think we expect.

When someone takes us to task, calling us out, accusing us of ‘not caring’ our first response isn’t to be ‘kind.’ We want to defend, we want to make excuses, we want to make people know that they are wrong about their accusations.

We want to fight back. At times, I think we expect to see and hear that from our God because that’s how we react.

Yet, as God responds to Habakkuk I don’t read malice. I don’t read indignation. I don’t read annoyance.

In God’s response, I feel empathy. I feel understanding. I hear a different story.

Write the vision. Make it plain on tablets so that a runner may read it. There is still a vision for the appointed time.

I read that, and I hear the abiding peace and comfort that only comes in faith of a God that plays the long game. That sense of mystery that I am a part of something much larger than myself, my family, my congregation, my community. That mystery that I don’t understand, I’m not given a peek or a cheat sheet for.

But, I rest in the knowledge that God does care. That God does notice. That God is here.

I rest in that comfort because of the knowledge and faith of what was to come – much longer after Habakkuk lamented and wrote this piece of scripture – what was to come in the incarnation. In the birth of Jesus. In the proclamation of the kingdom of God by our Lord, in the death and resurrection of our Christ.

And yet, there are times that even my resolve and steadfastness in that knowledge wavers, and yet I am blown away in other’s calm during struggles in their life.

My friend – James – is living in the unease of cancer and the dis-ease of an insurance company that has denied coverage for his treatment. He and his girlfriend are inspirations in how they have approached this point in his life. There is hope – deep hope – in their words. At times it seems like he is comforting us with each new tale of a roadblock or a hoop to maneuver. God’s got this.

My friend Tanya, who died this week from her long struggle with cancer, approached her impending death by saying she was ‘calm and at peace.’ She wrote another witty, beautiful, and heartfelt post on Facebook before her death in which she talked about how much she’s loved her life. How incredibly proud she was of her family, her friends, and the work she was able to do. After her death, her young daughter Sabin spoke about her mom, “My mom lived an epic life.” God’s got this.

Today in Habakkuk, we hear from our God that there is a vision for the appointed time. There is hope and comfort in that, but there is also a challenge in it as well for us.

We are not to sit and wait for that. Just watching the world burn around us. Not sitting in our comfortable places – simply on our couches in front of the TV – simply in our pews on Sunday morning – we are not called to simply sit this one out.

For God’s words to Habakkuk are the same to us – write it plainly for even runners to see.

Not just big. But, in ways to provide comfort. The runners that God speaks of this day aren’t doing it for their leisure or their health. They are fleeing – fleeing the Chaldeans who continue to march on. Spreading news of what is coming. In many ways, speaking of ‘the end’ in fear in the context of their lives.

We have that too. Many people are running through and running by. Not simply to ‘just run’ for the fun of it. Running out of fear of what they see behind them.

We as the church – as the community of the faithful – are called to write – to engage – to provide comfort – in the news of the Gospel. Not to be ‘congratulated,’ not to be ‘noticed’ by God. But, to spread that news – that deep abiding faith that brings wholeness, peace, and calm to a life in the midst of the tumbling river – by writing it in large letters so even those running can see, and know, and notice.

We as the church proclaim that good news that has already been given to the world. We as the church write it on tablets so that all might see and know. We as the church do not simply wait on the fringe, but we walk boldly with our words held high – God’s got this.

How we do that as the church depends on who we are engaging with, having a conversation with, developing relationships with – but, the message remains – God’s got this. God does care. God’s got the long game. God has called us to be a part of this too.

And when we live into that life? Wow, will it indeed be epic. Amen.

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