Sermon for 30th November
Habakkuk 1: 1-4,2: 2-4,3: 17-19
13 thousand Slaves (living) in Britain
Political suicide: in a cab and in court
7000 dead from Ebola
What is fair?
What is right?
What is just and seemly and following God's path?
This week in our scripture for Sunday we investigate the prophet Habakkuk. Our readings take us from the start, to the middle to the end in three quick excerpts.
The three short readings could be summarised thus:
- · Habakkuk, laments the state of the world, and asks God why things are so?
- · God replies, reminding Habakkuk not to worry: God is acting and God is always there even when not visible.
- · Habakkuk responds: ok God, even when I can't see you, or sense you, or know you; even when it makes no logical sense at all: I'm still going to praise you.
The lectionary is put together with no knowledge of what will be happening in the world when each set of readings comes round.
Yet here we are, in a week where injustice and inequality and perversion of facts and violent responses and hopelessness abound.
A week when we look at the world and ask WHY???
Why is the world like this?
Why do people do stupid things?
Say uncaring, terrible things to each other?
Why do people trust, or not trust another human by the colour of their skin rather than the honour of their behaviour?
And why is it that we lament and moan and complain – but don’t actually DO anything?
And then we read a lament and realise we are not alone
We are not the only ones
It is not only our generation that sees this world thus
It is not only our generation that complains and laments
And then: then we read an assurance that even in the worst of times:
God. Is. There.
God is there
God is always there
Even when, especially when, we cannot sense God's presence:
God is there
I read these words
I write these words
I hear these words
I try, very, very hard to live these words
Know these words
Believe these words
But I do not always manage it
Because sometimes the world seems just too far gone
I read in the news of politicians in London who expect that they have a right to be heard; a right to be exempt from common decency – and I sigh, and shake my head, shrug my shoulders – but I cannot bring myself to do anything more, because I cannot believe that I can make it any different
I read in the news of rioting and violent protest across the Atlantic; it’s a long way away; it’s not here; it doesn’t affect me – so what do I do? What can I do?
I read that this terrible disease that is killing in another distant land; this disease which is devastating families continues rampant: now claiming over 7000 souls. And I feel helpless.
Then on Saturday the radio tells me that “they” estimate there are around 13,000 slaves in Britain.
13,000 slaves: people, held, worked, unpaid, uncared for – treated as less than human – and it is so hard I cannot fit it into my head. And then when I look at the global figures.... 36 million!
How can this be?
How can this be in our world in 2014 – that humans treat each other so badly?
How can it be?
I join my voice to that of Habakkuk, and countless others over the years, and ask WHY????
And I try to listen...
I seek the voice...
Are you still there God?
Are you looking at this world and reeling too?
I wish I were a prophet like those of old
That I too could hear God’s voice loud and clear giving me some reassurance.
God. Is. Here.
God weeps with us
God rails too at the injustice of it all
Yet still it is happening
The world is corrupt and unfair
People make mistakes
People are cruel and harsh
And, somewhere in a distant land, a journey begins
From dark to light
From despair to hope
We are waiting....
For the time to be right
To share the vision
To live the hope
To grasp the dream:
To join my voice with Habakkuk saying, “even if the world is lost, spinning out of control, even when everything is dying around me, Yes, Even then
When my heart is lamenting
I will praise God”
I. Will. Praise......
Because, what else can I do?
What else can we do?
We will praise God
“I will still be joyful and glad, because the Lord God is my saviour. The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains.” (Hab 3:18-19)
Now that’s an image to conjure with!