Billboard Vision - Reflections - 9-28-16

 Texts for Sunday October 2, 2016


 Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
 Psalm 37:1-9
 2 Timothy 1:1-14
 Luke 17:5-10

Headline from the 
New York Times on September 1, 2016:

Chicago Has Its Deadliest Month in About Two Decades
By midnight on Wednesday, 90 murders had occurred in August alone, making it the deadliest month in Chicago in about 20 years. Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, has experienced more homicides this year than the bigger cities of Los Angeles and New York combined.

How long is this violence going to last in Chicago?  

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails.

The first four verses of Habakkuk really resound with today’s headlines, don’t they?  

Two things stand out in those verses: 

1) The prophets stood up for social justice. God was pretty clear that a part of the “choosing” of the chosen ones, was that they would show the rest of the world how to live God’s vision of peace and justice. It was the prophet’s job to keep calling the society back to that vision of existence. And occasionally to remind God. I wish that quality was more evident in today’s Christian church.  I don’t think we do a very good job of being an example of God’s mercy or justice in the world.

2) This text shows that it is OK to question God, to argue with God. These texts from the prophets express the very human experience of the discrepancy between actual life and the vision and ideals of “the way of God”.  I have a hard time imaging anyone making it through life without a “Seriously, God? How long is this going to go on?” Or “Are you going to do anything about this miscarriage of justice?” “Are you even listening?”  

Then somewhat oddly the lectionary has us skip through God’s answer to Habakkuk in chapter one as well as his new complaint against God to God’s answer to that second complaint in chapter two.

First Habakkuk sets up camp waiting for God’s reply. That reply contains what my husband and I consider the first billboard. Although I did read that it might be the first sandwich board worn by the runner instead. Verse 3 assures us to trust it. God’s vision is sure. It is reliable. Wait for it.
God’s people are invited to live in the world through their faithfulness, fidelity, and steadfastness to that vision…which is translated “live by faith”.  

Christians believe that God’s vision/kingdom has already broken into our world through Jesus. And we wait instead for the culmination of that kingdom when we live fully in God’s mercy and justice.

What do you think? You can write comments below.

Check out more reflections on these texts in the G.I.F.T. post for 10-2-16.

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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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