O Lord, How Long? Lament from the Prophets

Grace and Peace to you, beloved

If we follow the One,

Who shatters death

Who picks us up from the gate

Who transforms this world,

Then we cannot afford to be

The stumbling blocks

In each other’s lives

Instead our faith should be scattered

Like a mustard seed

So that it grows in the wilderness

Spreading Love, Mercy

And Forgiveness

Amen.

 Luke 3:4 proclaims

A voice of one calling in the wilderness

That voice cries out their testimony

Shares their witness

Striving to live out their faith.

(pause)

But what happens,

When no one hears,

People turning their whole selves away

Our own voices registering to their hearing as strained and muffled

Refusing to acknowledge and experience

The transforming power of the Good News

(pause)

Left vacant

The wilderness seemingly overwhelms us

And we are helpless to do nothing,

But emit a primal scream.

Collectively,

For my fellow sisters and brothers in Seminary,

The journey towards a deeper theological and spiritual understanding

Grew to be exasperating at times

Not only because of the normal burdens

Of paperwork for Candidacy

Or papers never ending

Or projects mounting

But because suddenly we were alone

Isolated

From the same communities which had sent us off

To this journey of Seminary

We were shocked!

The reality of their immunity to our dancing,

Singing,

Praising

About how the Gospel broke down walls,

And filled our hearts.

(pause)

They did not want to hear,

The restoring promises of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

They did not want to be faced with the truths

Of Liberation

Of Freedom

Because that would mean,

They would be forced

To wrench themselves away

From their comfortable places

At those golden altars they had been building

In reverence to doctrines

And Dogmas

(pause)

Our voices adrift

In an unforgiving,

Unfamiliar

Atmosphere

To where

God

Could not hear

The cries

Of God’s people

Even now

My soul is overcome

By this new religion

And theology

Of VIOLENCE!

(pause)

Violence against the innocent-

Especially those blinded by their own demons,

That lash out against love as their loved ones try to hold on

Trapped by their shackles of mental anguish

Pointing to a system,

Which disregards the stewardship of life,

The accountability

That the Creator God commanded us to have

For one another

(pause)

Violence against those in the community-

Especially those tolling hard on the front lines,

Those working towards restorative justice

And yet violence invades these sacred spaces

Blinded by a system

That refuses to acknowledge its culpability

In the destruction of the people, and their life.

(pause)

Violence against those who serve,

Those who work without thanks,

Without praise

Trying to build a bridge

Trying to be ambassadors

Because the system failed,

And abandoned them,

Leaving them to bear the brunt

And navigating a broken people,

On their own

(pause)

Violence against Black and Brown and Red bodies

Simply because they swallowed the propaganda

Created by a corrupt and devious system

Spoon feeding them to the idea

That these sacred bodies,

With the reflection of the ONE

Who was also a Sacred body,

That these sisters and brothers in Christ

Are somehow less than

(pause)

Violence against the very gift,

We take granted

Day after day,

Of Creation itself!

Thinking it will automatically replenish

Forgetting our misuse this land

Or hoard minerals,

Blocking off water rights,

Robbing Creation selfishly of its resources

Because somehow the system

Declares us the dominant force

(pause)

On most days, it feels as if

All I want to do

Is to go out into Creation

And scream myself

WHY

WHY

“How long, Lord, must I call for help,

    but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!”

    but you do not save?”

(pause)

God,

Seems to be absent

Neglectful

And we,

Just as the prophet in Habakkuk (Hab-bu-kuck)

Felt forsaken,

Rejected

(pause)

The unnamed prophet,

Is rightfully angry

Complaining

Questioning God

Her prayers are not answered

Her cries are unheeded

In this prophets time,

Of 7th Century BCE

The Israelites are under the rule

Of the occupiers

The Babylonians,

The Israelites perhaps experienced a state of confusion,

And desertion

The Babylonians forced upon them,

Assimilation.

Assimilating both culturally and spiritually

Demanding that they deny themselves,

Violating their sacred bodies,

Through economic and physical oppression

Does this sound familiar?

We as humanity sometimes do not learn the lessons,

From the mistakes of the past

(pause)

And yet,

The people of God

Created that chiasm,

Separating themselves

From the presence of the Creator God

Because

Of their selfishness,

Their actions,

Their neglect

Of those outside the gate

Clinging to laws,

That had nothing to do with Faith.

(pause)

Doesn’t it appear as

Our own actions

Mirror those

Of these ancestors?

We have failed in being

Good stewards

Of one another

And so the abyss

Grows

Deeper still

We forget whose we are

And we allow ourselves to slip

Into a coma like state

(pause)

“Therefore the law is paralyzed,

    and justice never prevails.

The wicked hem in the righteous,

    so that justice is perverted.”

The prophet in Habakkuk, (Hab-bu-kuck)

Besides herself,

That the collective community,

Disrupted the opening and the rushing in,

Of the Holy Spirit

That instead of fighting a common enemy,

They seemed to be fighting themselves

“It would be better for you

if a millstone were hung around your neck

and you were thrown into the sea

than for you to cause one of these

little ones to stumble”

These verses which are here in Luke 17,

But not included in our Gospel this morning,

Echo the frustrations perhaps,

Of the prophet in Habakkuk, (Hab-bu-kuck)

And are magnified as a warning,

From Jesus Christ

Sometimes,

We

Are

The

Stumbling

Block.

The wicked

Sometimes

Look

Like

Us.

(pause)

It’s not just as simple

That because we have lack of faith,

Or our hands are empty of faith,

Or even we do not practice what we preach,

But this unwillingness

To Forgive!

And we know as people of faith,

This is HARD

TO

FORGIVE!

And we’re not talking something as easy

For sins committed

But that our smugness

Self-assured in our righteousness

In orthodoxy

That somehow know

God

So therefore,

Forgiving,

Welcoming

Being in community with those,

Whose beliefs,

Lifestyle

Or how they connect with God

Just because it differs from us,

Somehow

We don’t have to accept them!

We can be dismissive

We use the doctrine of justification to alienate ourselves

To practice prejudice

And bigotry

(pause)

We cling to dogma

As Truth

Instead of the Gospel,

The Good News,

Which proclaims

An uncomfortable TRUTH

That because of Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord

ALL

Were created

ALL are forgiven

(pause)

And yet

This is why

We,

Beloved,

Children of the Creator God

Cling to Jesus Christ,

The One who gathers us in His Hands,

And breathes NEW LIFE,

EVEN into

Dry seeds,

EVEN when we are discarded by others,

Because the perception is,

Nothing good could come from us

(pause)

We cling to Jesus

And cry out in that wilderness

“Increase our FAITH!”

Jesus,

We are trying!

Jesus,

What else can we do?

Jesus

Do not forget us

Jesus,

We are willing

(pause)

And this increasing of our faith,

Goes beyond having this faith,

Like a mustard seed

We must be open,

Remembering our baptism

And why we are called to a PURPOSE!

Our faith does not have to be huge,

BUT IT DOES HAVE TO GROW

Our work,

Our goals,

Our commitment to God,

Our FAITH will BLOSSOM!

But we have to TRUST GOD

Allowing GOD to nurture,

Direct us,

Even when we are in the midst of transforming

Watching our faith develop

Into something beautiful

And we go “God, its supposed to look like that? Okay!”

(pause)

The Good News is beloved,

When we,

As children of God,

As precious seeds

Have been left out in the wilderness,

Because we have been stamped worthless,

And food for scavengers

The Good News of Jesus Christ,

Is that GOD sends the healing Waters of Rain,

Washing us,

Fueling us

Giving US LIFE

Watch us GROW!

Thanks Be to God.

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