I don't know about you, but waiting is hard. Several months, back I challenged us as a congregation to make ourselves wait. Not too long ago, I remember being at Nilssen's and actually waving people in front of me. After about 5 minutes, I could begin noticing physically that I was loosing my patience to wait. My hands started to sweat; I could feel the irritability starting to rise out of my stomach and go into my head; and I started glancing at my phone a little to much. Wow, and this was only five minutes. I can see I have a long ways to go in extending out how patient I am in living my daily life.
In today's text, we talk again about patience but in a difference context. We are talking about being patient when injustice or evil is rearing its ugly head. I don't know about you, but I think I have less patience when it comes for this type of stuff. When injustice happens or evil happens I want God to step in and make amends now. I don't want to see people suffer. I believe also that God doesn't want people to suffer. However, living in a world that is coated in sin, suffering happens. Evil and injustice happen and happen too frequently.
Our text from Habakkuk reminds us, that even though evil happens, this is not the end. God does not tolerate evil, and that it will be eradicated. The one thing God doesn't say though, that this process is quick and painless. It took many years and decades for the Nazi regime to be tossed from power. However it was. I think this is what Habakkuk is trying to tell us today, that evil is not going to win and that God's justice and mercy will reign supreme. Habakkuk also reminds us that this process can be long and heart breaking. So how do we then deal with situations that are heart breaking to us; that shines forth injustice; or shows off the evil in this world?
We need to trust in God, by praying and by working to support God's mission in the world. The Habakkuk text doesn't invite us to inaction, on the opposite, it reminds us to act as God wants us to with justice and hope. What this text really does for us is remind us that God's justice might take a awhile but don't lose hope because in the end God's will and justice prevail. So what is God calling you to do with an injustice or an evil that you see around you?
I apologize for the lateness of this post but the head cold I got over this past weekend has been a doozy. The last two night have been hard to get some good sleep but I am just happy I have been able to get some rest. As I look at the text for this coming week, my groggy eyes are drawn to chapter 7 verses 8-11.
Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, "We are safe!"—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord.
As we have been marching through the Bible thanks to the help of the narrative lectionary, we have seen time and time again that the people of Israel forgot what it means to live under God's covenant. They turn to ways of hurting themselves and each other. They take the easy way out. This past Sunday, we talked about the hard road of peace. It is a lot easier to discount people and to simply ignore them than to actually treat other people with the same dignity we give our trusted family and friends.
This Thursday, is Thanksgiving, which is a time of family get togethers. For a lot of people this is a very fun time of the year, but for a lot of people it is a time of various bad family dynamics. There is a family member who makes your skin crawl or who always seems to push all your buttons. It can make the holidays very hard to enjoy let alone tolerate. However, God asks us to walk the walk of our faith especially around circumstances like this. How would it look like if you engaged this relative or friend in the language of peace? What if you took some time to listen to what they are saying? Note I am not saying you have to agree with what they are talking about. What if you gave yourself permission not to fall into those arguments that drives you nuts? The language of peace is for both us and the people we have a relationship with by setting boundaries, about what we can and will not do.
The Jeremiah text today is reminding us that following God's path for us isn't easy and that it takes work. However when we do this, when we practice what we preach, amazing things happen. Peace can come to us and to our Thanksgiving's gathering. I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
You did read that right in the description. We are suppose to read chapter 2 of Isaiah after chapter 36 and 37. That seems a little weird until, we consider what happens in chapter 2. In this chapter of Isaiah, we hear what happens when God is present. God comes down and helps settles disputes. No longer are there swords but instead plow shares. Nation will not rise against nation in war but instead talk to each other. It seems like a pipe dream doesn't it? No more war. No more violence. People working together to feed other people. People working together for the benefit of all, instead of just themselves or there little neck of the woods. Can you even imagine what a world like this would even look like? Let us take a couple of minutes to dream about it....
I can see people getting along. I can see people listening to one another. I can feel hope, instead of fear. I see people getting enough to eat. I see people helping other people so that can have a hand up. I see people not being lonely. I see people understand that they are loved and cared for. I see people have a place to live. I feel that people are respected and have dignity because they are treated as a brother or sister and not an enemy.
So is this just a pipe dream that Isaiah is having? What if I told you that this can happen and even better that this going to happen. What if I told you that we can be a part of the transformation of our world? How would that make you feel? Now here is even the harder question what is God calling you to do? Is it listening to your neighbor? Is it helping to make sure nobody in our community goes hunger? Is it mentoring a child? Is it giving a stranger hope instead of reacting to them out of fear? What is it?
In our fractured world, we as Christians need to be God's hands and feet on the ground to help people realize that God's message of peace, of love, and of grace is not some fairy tale but the truth. A truth that will help free this world of its violence and usher in understanding; mercy; and peace.
Micah is one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament. Prophets in general were always about getting the people of Israel to see their actions and words in the light of God's message of love, peace, and mercy. Israel, very much like us, needs to be reminded of this message fairly frequently because it is easy to forget that life isn't just about us. As I read the text this week, my eyes were draw to Chapter 6 verse 8
God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (NRSV)
I don't know about you but it reminds me of a hymn, We Are Called. So I went onto Youtube and started looking at different versions, and I found one that was pretty powerful to me. I think it was powerful because of the strength and the conviction of the people singing it.
As I was singing along with the singers, I started to ask myself what each part of this verse means. What does it mean to do justice? What does it mean to love kindness? And how in the world do I walk humbly with God? How would you answer these questions?
As we look at the world we are today, I think many of these things are in short supply. You don't have to look any further than the news you get across your newsfeed. We see violence; we see hunger, we see despair and we often feel powerless to do anything. We are called as Christians to do something about this though. God wants us to do justice in our local communities. Jesus wants us to love kindness and give it to all the people we know, even the people who make us mad. Finally God wants us to take the time and talk to God. God wants us to take the time to pray. God wants us to take the time to listen. God wants us to take the time and be with other people of faith. When we do these things we begin to change. Our world begins to change, and the world begins to be the place it was meant to be. So this week, ask yourself how you can begin to answer the call we have been given by God because we have been called!
Pastor Paul. I hope you find these reflections insightful and help you in your faith journey!