Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
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The Answer

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

November 3:

Text:    Luke 19: 1-10
Prophet: Habakkuk 1: 1-4; 2:1-4
Others:  Baptism, dedicate stoles at PUMC


This may come as a bit of a shock to most of you,
   But on two occasions, I have fallen in love with men.

The first time was back in 1955, when I was nine years old
   That time I fell in love   with the Brooklyn Dodgers
   Despite their move across the country,
58 years later, my love for the Dodgers has not waned

The second time was much more recently - back in 1997
   I was no longer nine years old
   In fact, I was 51 - albeit a youthful 51
   This time I fell in love with the Old Testament prophets
      Like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel
      Like Hosea, Micah, and Habakkuk

And today, despite the passage of years,
I still remain fascinated and excited by the prophets
If anything,
The more time I have spent with them
The more my fascination and excitement have grown.

The prophets speak to me, enlighten me, and challenge me.
They make me think
They make me look in the mirror
They provide me with both warning and hope.

The prophets sought from God     answers for the people
The prophets shared with the people answers from God

The prophets are a vital and a vocal part
   Of the history of our relationships with God.
As such, they help us understand both of the Biblical testaments

For example,
this morning's words from Habakkuk
   help us understand the concerns in OT Jerusalem
just before that city and the area around it
were conquered by the Babylonians

But they also open us up and help us look at and understand
our NT text this morning.

So we begin our look at the story Luke preserved for us
By spending time with the prophet and the question he asked

As we do so, I suspect that each one of us here
   Can relate to asking God essentially the same question
[Habakkuk 1: 1-4]

Habakkuk was distressed
   All around him       things were falling apart
   All around him    there was violence and wrongdoing

And the prophet turns to the Lord and asks
"How long?"

"How long must I wait?"
"How long must I cry out about the violence around me?"

"Why do you expose me to wrongdoing?"
"Why do you make me see trouble?"
And after God answers by announcing
 that he is raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians)
as an instrument of judgment for Jerusalem's violating
the covenant relationship set forth in the law.

Habakkuk, not fully satisfied, affirmatively declares to the people
at the beginning of chapter 2
   "I will stand at my watchpost,
   And station myself on the rampart;
   I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
   And what he will answer concerning my complaint."

He waited in that watch tower       [2: 2-4]

In essence, God tells Habakkuk that he will be given a vision
   And that Habakkuk should preserve it to lend support for its authority when it comes to be.

And closes with a lesson
   "If it seems to tarry (or linger)   wait for it
   It will surely come, it will not delay."

And then God warns about the proud who think they know things
   And so don't listen for what God has to say
And contrasts the proud with the righteous
   Who instead live  by faith.

In its simplest terms, Habakkuk has told and shown us
We have questions and we have concerns
We want God to answer the questions
We want God to resolve our concerns

And that God assures us that our questions will be answered
And that our concerns will be addressed.
But that we will have to wait.
For unlike the proud
   The righteous live by their faith.

We know now that the question that the prophet raised
on behalf of his contemporaries in Jerusalem
And on behalf of their successors in [Potsdam] [West Stockholm]

Was at last answered
in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However, even as it was answered we see the continuation of the contrast between:
   The self righteous and proud
who think they don't need to wait
because they think they already know      and
   The righteous and faithful
      Who wait, trusting in God.

We saw this contrast last week
   In the prayer of the Pharisee
   And the prayer of the tax collector.

We see it again today in the story
of Zacchaeus and the people who grumbled.  [Luke 19: 1-10]

This is another repentant sinner story.
This is another story that reminds us to not look down on others.
This is a story that resembles the lost and found stories
   Although this time the lost "finds" instead of "being found."

All those are appropriate ways of looking at the story
   I have done it several times during my ministry.

But this year, as I read it in conjunction with the passages from Habakkuk,
   I realized that this story also provides an example
          Of what God told that prophet some six centuries before.

I visualized Zacchaeus up in the tree
   Trying to see and hear Christ better
And I saw Habakkuk in the watchtower or on the ramparts
   Positioned too so that he could see and hear better.

I saw in the grumbling
   The self righteous who thought they knew the answer

for I recognized that the grumbling people
   Thought that the law was the answer
   And that the law prohibited being a guest of one who was a sinner

But I also recognized that Zacchaeus knew
that Christ was the answer to "how long?"
for God had listened and sent the son as the answer.
      (And as another prophet had said would happen)
This son was and is the new covenant
   Written not on tablets or parchment but in hearts
Even the heart of a sinner like Zacchaeus

How long shall we cry for help   And think God is not listening

God answered that question 2000 years ago
   And yet too often we hide from God
And cover our eyes and ears
Rather than stand our watchpost

Habakkuk asked the question   God sent the answer
   What you and I have to do is open our ears and eyes
   So that we can listen and see.