Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda

(excerpt of sermon, Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4)

…The days for the Judeans didn’t necessarily get better. In fact, here we are 2500 years later still reading of daily violence in this same region. But what we can take away with us from today’s reading is this: Habakkuk serves as an example of faith in God who is still moving, still speaking, still reforming this world—and this is what we witness to today. And that’s how I envision Habakkuk today: as an ordinary man, just like you and I, who simply had enough of the crap the world was throwing at him and his people. But Habakkuk has faith; so much faith, in fact, that he prays earnestly on behalf of his people for God’s presence. And even after all of the violence, all of the strife, the final chapter of this short book is a psalm of thanks and praise for God’s movement on the earth. We have a lot to learn from Habakkuk.

 

Whenever we are beaten down by the world, we can read the words of this prophet and realize that we are not alone. When we are at our whit’s end and don’t know if we can go any further; when we question the very existence of a God who our faith tradition has witnessed to for thousands of years, we can read the words of Habakkuk and rediscover our faith. These words point to something larger than simply an old story of a Jewish man who’s down on his luck. These words illuminate within us what we can feel deep within our deepest desires, and maybe our deepest fears; that God is truly present. And the even better Good News today: God continues to reform the church. God is still speaking.

 

Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda. Yes it means, the church reformed, always reforming. It can also mean the church reformed, always being reformed. And what reform we have seen. You know most people think of ‘church’ as what they experienced as a child. For many of us here today, what we are doing now, right here, is very similar to what we experienced 10, 20, maybe even 50 years ago. And for many of us, how we worship represents how we understand God in this world. But God is continually reforming, transforming our hearts, and our daily lives.

 

Let me share with you a little of how I see God speaking to the church today. Last week I was in Texas for a conference on the transformational. And while I was there, I went and saw what God was doing to transform those faith communities.

I worshiped on an old ranch property outside of Austin with 200 other Presbyterians, 95% of them under the age of 40, as the children led worship with drums, guitars, and puppet shows. God is still speaking.

Later that week I worshiped in downtown Ft. Worth, where Presbyterians gathered in a new age circular space, chairs seated in the round, as lyrics to ancient hymns flashed on projectors, with a jazz band to accompany us. God is still speaking.

 

And God is reforming us here in Florida as well…

Just this week I met with a presbytery committee who’s responsibility it is to help individuals discern their call within the Presbyterian Church. Our first person was a second career Korean oceanographer. Our next person was a young white male interested in ministering to those with disabilities. We met with a young African American pastor who left his Baptist roots for the PCUSA, a young white man who is seeking his call to ministry with teenagers, and a Cuban pastor who is seeking ordination so that she can serve a Hispanic congregation in Miami within the PCUSA tradition. God is still speaking.

 

Habakkuk was afraid of what lied ahead for the Jewish people. But Habakkuk was faithful to God who continued to move in the world. And as we experience the violence and chaos of today, we may be feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or even afraid for the future. But we, just like Habakkuk, are called to faithfully listen for, and follow the movement of God.

 

Whether we are old Jewish prophets like Habakkuk, children with guitars, young or old, white, black, speaking English, Spanish, or speaking in tongues, we are witnesses to faith in God, who continues to reform.

 

God is still speaking; are we still listening to the wonderful plans God has for us?

 

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