October 2- sermon- Betsy Wooster

Sermon Text...


10-02-22 Sermon                                                              Rev. Betsy Wooster


Habakkuk 1:1-4

1The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see wrongdoing
    and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
4 So the law becomes slack,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous;
    therefore judgment comes forth perverted.


Habakkuk 2:1-4

2 I will stand at my watchpost
    and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what God will say to me
    and what God will answer concerning my complaint.
2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so that a runner may read it.
3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
    it speaks of the end and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 Look at the proud!
    Their spirit is not right in them,
    but the righteous live by their faithfulness.


I love a good saga about a watchman on the rampart. I can see a darkening sky and a lone figure standing like a sentinel, or pacing slowly along the top of the wall watching as the sun goes down, for any trouble, or any help, that is on the way. When watching a scene like this unfold in a movie, you sort of already know there must be some concern inside the city, something on the outside of the wall that is a threat or at least a looming threat.

Those within the city walls also hope that there is help outside of the walls. Help that will come to their rescue if the threat materializes.


In today’s scripture text, after crying out to God about the injustice all around him, the prophet Habakkuk claims he will station himself on the rampart and become the watchman for his community of Judah during a time of general lawlessness of its leaders, leaving its people to be subjugated and oppressed. Habakkuk sees wrongdoing and trouble. Destruction. Strife and contention arise. His prophecy is coming at a time when the Babylonian empire would soon invade Judah, destroy the temple in Jerusalem and take its people into exile in Babylon.


So, Habakkuk is watching, searching for some sign that there is a way forward, a way out. He is looking for some assurance that the goodness of God will answer his hope.

And quite an expression of hope it is, for Habakkuk to keep the faith when God’s answer to his lament is that Habakkuk get some tablets and write down the vision himself. ‘Make it plain,’ God tells him. Make it plain, make it clear, so that others can see it, so that others will read it and the message can spread. Still the vision awaits its time. If it seems to tarry, wait for it.  And even if Habakkuk doesn’t know how God will restore peace and justice in the land, God knows that Habakkuk proclaiming this holy vision is a part of the work that God will do.

The vision needs to be proclaimed;

that conflict can be reconciled,

that suffering can be alleviated,

that grief will be comforted,

and that God’s power will overcome evil.


Habakkuk’s experience may feel familiar to you. Crying out about overwhelming loss and difficulty in the world. Wondering how will Florida ever recover? How will war in Ukraine be resolved? In our personal lives, we hold grief and difficulty at times that make it hard to know how we’ll get through the week. And yet, we hold hope. Instead of saying ‘this is just the way it is,’ we say ‘it shouldn’t be like this.’ And isn’t that a faithful wrestling with God? Like Habakkuk, we stand on our watchtowers and look for signs of hope.


We follow the news of the world to see how our leaders and neighbors are supporting the situations of war and natural disasters around us. We come to worship, we pray for the world, we sing of the vision of God’s kingdom, of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. We do all this hoping that it will be so. These are acts of faith.

Even as a situation seems overwhelming and hopeless, Habakkuk was called by God to be a watchman and enact his vision. Even as Habakkuk cried out in despair and complaint, he didn’t give up.


To wrestle with God is a human expression of faith. It is natural and even important, to express our feelings. Sometimes the act of expressing our frustration and our complaints brings revelation. We hear God saying to us: look inside your hearts for an answer; write down a vision for yourself; write down a vision for others; make it plain.


Like God called Habakkuk, God is calling us to uphold the vision…to proclaim it. We know things are bad and we have no idea how to fix it, but we are still looking for hope. Yes, we wrestle with God about these things, and the very wrestling itself is sign of our trust that God will answer our cries. Even if we’re not sure how things are going to be made well, let us remember that our holding onto hope and proclaiming that vision can be used by God. Here's a small example of that on a personal level, a story that makes the vision plain.

There was a NYT article a few weeks ago by Catherine Pearson that tells the story of Erin Alexander, who sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a very hard day.


A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was having her own hard day. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Erin — who’d stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine — smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. Later, after picking up her order, Erin noticed a message on her cup of tea: “Erin,” the barista had scrawled next to a heart, “your soul is golden.”

“I’m not sure I even necessarily know what ‘your soul is golden’ means,” said Ms. Alexander, who laughed and cried while recalling the incident. “Of course, I was still really sad,” she said. “But that little thing made the rest of my day.”

In their own ways, both Erin and the barista made the vision plain: Though strangers, in the midst of stress and grief, they said to one another “I see you. Your life has value. You have support.”  Isn’t this what it means to have a soul of gold? To watch and notice when someone nearby needs a vision? There are people like Erin, who have a soul of gold. They watch and they notice when someone near them needs a new vision of herself.


The barista wrote down her vision, she made it plain so that Erin could read it. When we are truly seen by others, we recognize something valuable about ourselves because it’s been named for us.

The encounter between Erin and the barista was part of a series of studies demonstrating the great value of what seemed to be small act of kindness. Any act of kindness changes the world.


Writing the vison, proclaiming and sharing the vision, is the beginning of making a difference. Worship itself, is a way of proclaiming that we have a vision for a world that is just, a world where suffering is alleviated. We are watchers on the rampart, and we all have our parts to play. Some of us are the town criers, alerting others to the lack of justice around us that we aren’t seeing, some of us are the ones jumping off the rampart and confronting the unjust ways of the world directly. Some of us are caring for the people who are injured, both inside and outside of the wall, some of us are growing the food to feed everyone, some of us are opening our doors to protect the vulnerable from every walk of life.


God calls each of us to be alert to the ways in which we can live out a vision, and then God tells us to take the time to write down our commitment to enacting the vision. To make is plain, above all, to ourselves, that we have within us what we need to do our part.


On this Sunday, we remember that Jesus shared this meal with his disciples, and then he said, as often as you break this bread and drink this cup, do so in remembrance of me. In other words, keep sharing this meal. You do it now, Jesus says. Do this to remember me. You give the people a vision of grace that is freely offered, a table that is set for everyone. Make It Plain.