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Reformation Sunday

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

I always hated playing musical chairs as a kid. The music would start up and my little heart would start pounding. I still feel a little panic when I think about that game today. I was never a very athletically gifted child, so I knew that my chances of lasting very long in this game of quick reflexes were slim to none. I hated the feeling of embarrassment at being one of the first ones out. You had to just stand by and watch the rest of your friends continue to play- the kids who were better than you.

This feeling of dread and the belief that there wasn’t enough space for you, that you had to fight your way for a spot to sit down- that same feeling and belief were what the Reformers spoke out against and what Jesus addresses in today’s reading.

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

People believed and many people still believe that the love of God is like a game of musical chairs. The music of life starts up and we have to prepare ourselves to make the mad dash for a seat in heaven. If we aren’t good enough, then we have to sit outside the love of God by ourselves.

In the first century, there was a type of hierarchy present in households. Fathers were usually at the top and slaves were at the bottom. The slaves were utterly vulnerable and could be kicked out of the home at any time. They could simply be dismissed or they could be sold to another household. They had no real place in the home. At best they could consider a home to be a temporary lodging. Jesus asserts that we are slaves to sin and therefore we are vulnerable to its whims. If the power of poverty, illness, selfishness, injustice, or death decide to kick us out of our home of peace and hope- there isn’t a thing we can do about it. Jesus, however, comes to us and promises to give us a place in God’s house forever. In the house of the Son, you are accepted and loved unconditionally and no power of sin can change that. Continue reading

Righteous Waiting

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Luke 17:5-10

 

Waiting for the bus. Waiting in the doctor’s office. Waiting at the DMV. Waiting for the test results. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting is rarely, if ever fun. Waiting is usually uncomfortable and painful. The prophet Habakkuk is waiting. He is waiting for the other shoe to drop. He is waiting to see just how much worse things will get. He is also waiting on God to save him and his people.

 

Habakkuk is speaking to the people of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. All around him he sees injustices and wrongdoing. The wealthy exploit the poor for their own gains. Justice is something that is easily perverted if you have the funds to sway a judge. It seems as though no one in the land gives a thought about God or God’s way of mercy. Outside of Judah, Habakkuk sees a massive threat. The Chaldeans or the Babylonians are in the midst of conquering the world and it looks like their tiny nation of Judah is next on the Babylonian military’s list. The Kingdom of Judah doesn’t stand a chance. Babylon is a superpower of that time and Judah is a tiny nation less than half the size of New Jersey. Judah is in trouble. Habakkuk is looking at the corruption within his country and at the dangers outside of it and he is just waiting for things to go from bad to worse.

Habakkuk boldly raises his voice to God and asks, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?” His cry might as well be our cry.

 

When we see systemic racial violence and injustice.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When we see police shot and killed while they seek to keep the peace.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When we see addiction consume a loved one’s life.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When we see another murder in our city. 21 murders so far this year. 3 of them were just high schoolers 15 and 16 years old. 10 of them happened just this past summer.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When children go hungry.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When bloody war rages on around the world.

We cry out, “Why do you make me see wrongdoing?”

 

When injustice, violence, and destruction have become what we expect, we join our complaint to the prophet Habakkuk’s, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?”

After these courageous complaints, God does answer Habakkuk and says, “If [deliverance] seems to tarry, wait for it… the righteous live by their faith.”

Righteousness is not simply about being good. This is not God saying, “Buck up and shut up.” Righteousness is first and foremost about relationship- our relationship with God and God’s relationship with us. Continue reading