Scripture: Haggai 1:15b - 2:9 and Psalm 145:1-5, 8-9, 17-22
Sermon: Faithful Remembrance, Faithful Hope
"Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?"
Haggai doesn't beat about the bush.
It's 520 BCE. The kingdom was lost centuries before, victim of its own sin and corruption -- and the people have accepted that. They have been in exile in Babylon -- and they survived that, learning along the way to see God in new and deeper ways. Now God has brought them home to rebuild the temple and the kingdom -- but that was decades ago (539 BCE, to be precise) and the people have not yet accomplished anything of the rebuilding plan.
But Haggai neither makes them feel guilty, nor encourages them just to try harder. He says the change will come when God again shakes up the world.
We too grieve the loss of "former glory" -- in our own lives, as a church, as a country and as a global community, and we seem unable so far to build "the new world" we long for. This week especially we think of our failure to build a new world of peace after the wars and hard learnings of the last century. And there are so many other things in ruins that we used to enjoy, feel pride in, and take for granted, without any "great new world" yet to take their place.
How do we feel when Haggai says the great change will come when God shakes the world? What kind of shaking might we be in store for? What does it mean to live by that kind of faith?
Perhaps the psalmist lives with that kind of faith. Psalm 145 is a typical psalm of praise, rejoicing in God's power to redeem the people. Except there's a bit in the middle -- vv. 8-9, that seems somewhat in tension with the old faith in its suggestion that God's grace and good will are universal -- not just for the chosen people, but for all humanity. So when we get to the usual conclusion (in v. 20) about God destroying the wicked, "the wicked" are not those who do evil against God's chosen people, but any who do evil against humanity and the Earth.
I wonder if that shakes up any part of the world.