Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
Bible Background For the next four weeks we will be turning back to our Narrative Lectionary track for Advent. This week begins our four week Advent season. During this season we will be looking at what it means to be, “on the way.” This season will take us through a journey towards the birth of Christ. Our way will be full of questions, finding our path, and discerning what it means to be people of God. We will be called into action and challenged about what our way should be. What does it mean to be on the way for you this season?
Our season begins with an unusual start in the prophet Habbakuk. Habbakuk is not the feel good prophet that we might think should kick off Advent. Habbakuk gives us a way of life that is a foundational piece to what it means to be a Christian disciple who is waiting for God to show up. This prophet is speaking from a particularly traumatic time in Israel’s history. The Assyrian army has been destroying cities one after another. Not long after, the Babylonians will attack Jerusalem three times. And in 587 BCE, the temple will be destroyed. This prophet is sitting in the midst of destruction and hurt.
When we meet the prophet, Habbakuk is looking around, surveying the violence and cries out to God. He is overwhelmed by injustice, violence, oppression and evil deeds. The prophet asks why. Why must there be this violence in the world? Why does God allow it? I can relate to this cry. I seem to find myself asking these questions more and more. I look around and wonder why there must be such violence in the world. Why is there injustice, oppression, slavery, gun violence, and conquering?
After the prophet cries out, he waits. Habbakuk, in chapter two, is standing on a watch tower and waiting for God to answer. When God finally appears and answers, it is not the answer we thought we had been waiting for. The vision is to be clear. So clear that if you are running by, you can still see it. The answer is to….wait. Wait for God to do what God will do. Evil will not win but we are to wait and live a life full of faith. It won’t be easy. It never has been. We can’t just put faith on, we have to live it. We live it by waiting. We live it by continuing to trust in God and how God will do God’s work. Advent is a season of waiting for just such a transformation. Advent calls us to discern which way we will choose. Habbakuk reminds us to, as a foundational piece of our belief, wait in faith. Choose faith as this way of life. This will begin our journey together.
Quotes of the week
“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” –Og Mandino
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” –Buddha
“Go where your best prayers take you.” ― Frederick Buechner
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:2-4, 3:17-19 (Message) The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it: God, how long do I have to cry out for help
before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
and stand justice on its head.
And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
“Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
through loyal and steady believing
is fully alive, really alive.
Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
Questions for the Week
How will you wait this season?
What are you waiting for?
What has challenged your faith in God? How is faith part of your way of life?