Many weeks as I prepare for the coming Sunday, I am struck by how relevant and modern the readings from the Bible are for that week. Even texts written three to four thousand years ago have meaning in today's world. Take, for instance, the reading from Habakkuk for this coming Sunday. (That is the little book in the Hebrew Scriptures tucked away between Nahum and Zephaniah. Go to the end of the testament and back up 5 books to find it, or do as I do and look in the index.) Habakkuk is a minor prophet, meaning his book is very short, not that his is less important than other writings. Habakkuk was concerned about violence in his land in his day. He cried out to God and asked questions such as, "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?" (Hab. 1:2) The prophet was concerned about violence around him, strife and contention, the wicked taking advantage of the righteous.
He positions himself so that he can observe his surroundings and puts himself on guard. He says he will stay there until he gets an answer from God. And so he does....
"There is a vision for the appointed time," God replies, "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." (Hab. 2:3) In other words, God will bring about an end to violence but the timing of God's answer is not something that any of us can predict. We may be surrounded by violence and trouble and chaos, but our trust in God can be sure. God will bring about an answer in God's time.
Our town of Weimar has been in the big city news this week. The news trucks from two Houston stations were in town yesterday. I passed them as I drove toward the neighboring town and wondered why they would be here. Then I learned today they were featuring a story about one of our high school students who has been charged with murder. Supposedly, he was involved in an incident over the weekend in another town that ended in the death of another young person. He now sits in jail awaiting the outcome of this ordeal. People today are asking why this promising, athletic young man would be involved in such a crime. Answers are in short supply. Only questions can be asked with little hope of finding an answer.
I watched the news story from the Houston station on my computer this morning. The station allows viewers to post comments on their website after viewing stories. I was appalled by the many people who left racist remarks in regard to the story. They were not concerned about gun violence or why a high school student would have a gun at a social event. They could only cast blame at him because he is an African-American. They said many disparaging and racist comments, one after the other, until finally someone interjected a remark to bring some civility to the list of comments. Is this what American society has become at this point in time--more concerned about the race of a person charged with a crime rather than with the crime itself and why the crime had to happen in the first place?
I could have added a comment to the list and brought up the issue of gun control but I would have been shot down in my tracks (no pun intended) by others who think it is okay to say mean spirited things about someone based on their race but think that the guns they value so much are much more important than the life of an individual. Why have we become a nation that worships guns but does not value human life? This is the question that the prophet Habakkuk was asking? When will violence ever end? The answer to that question is one known only to God....but the righteous will live by faith, the reading concludes, and will not give up, even when they cannot see attitudes change. God is the only source of hope in troubled times.