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Hope in the face of adversity
December 2, 2018, 12:00 AM

Good Morning, Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

We have Habakkuk, a book in the bible you may never have heard of. We have the disciples falling asleep at a critical moment. We have the first week in Advent, the season of anticipation as we prepare for the arrival of a savior. We have a baptism this morning. And all of this as we acknowledge the news of the world around us and all of the negativity that brings with it. I mean really my synopsis of the news this week might be: Are Trump and Putin going to talk?, Is Trump going to be dragged down by his Russia connections?, What is happening with Brexit?, Which refugees are arriving and which are being turned away at the border (and no this is not just a US question)?, What is the current Israel/Palestine situation?, And then there are the wars, rumors of wars, world AID's day, famines and simple impoverishment that are happening around the world.

So lets start with all the bad news. What are we supposed to do with that problem? There is a constant deluge, if you pay any attention to the news, of negativity and problem. Once in a very long while you will see a human interest piece and some positivity but not very often. In the Old Testament we find that the Hebrew people use a form in the Psalms with some regularity, which Habakkuk has repeated it in today's text. There is this whole back and forth between the people and God, often starting with a complaint and containing some response from God that an answer is coming. This is then closed with some sort of recognition that God is God and we are not. Thus because God is God and sees what we can not, we can maintain hope and continue to worship God. My interpretation of Habakkuk in the final part today is, I am not seeing anything at the moment that would give me hope and yet I know that you God are far bigger than any of this and so I choose to have hope and to continue to pray and to worship you.

So, we have made the decision to stick with God but there is this nagging suspicion that God may not stick with us. And for that I turn to our New Testament text this morning. Jesus took the cream of the crop the three disciples who were at the top of their game, so that they might pray with him, this is right before he is arrested to be taken away and ultimately tried and crucified. This is an important moment and so one would hope the disciples would be there right with Jesus in his moment of need. And what happens, the disciples take a nap. Jesus returns to the disciples after telling them to pray and finds them asleep. Jesus is busy asking to have his life saved and the disciples are tired from the long day and fall asleep. And yet these are the very same disciples who will later be part of launching the church, the same church that baptized thousands on the first days of public ministry. So, apparently God will stick with us, even after we fail God and this is really good news on the day you worry you have failed God.

Choosing to have hope, choosing to continue to pray and to worship, having some reassurance that God will not abandon us even when we totally fail God, is important. These are all great and leave us in a place of hope, despite the world we live in. All of that is why we choose this morning to honor the path left for us by Jesus. Jesus, told us to baptize people and teach them his ways. We are promised in that baptism that we receive forgiveness of our sins are returned to right relationship with God. We are promised that this is a once and done proposition. We do not need to be baptized again and again and again because God chooses not to abandon us even when we get it wrong. God chooses to walk with us as we bear witness in a world that seems to be falling apart. God chooses to support us and bear our burden and our pain when we face this fallen world. God chooses us and we therefore choose God.

And thus we to can practice as the Hebrew people recorded in the bible that form of going to God and lodging our complaint, receiving the answer that God is aware and working on the problem and then we in spite of not seeing the evidence of a solution, choose to continue in hope and prayer and worship of God. We can in the face of all the negatives in this world have the opportunity to tell God what we think of it, receive an answer that might not be obvious or currently visible and remain as the hope filled people of God. And, is that not, in many ways, the message of Advent that we are a people of Hope awaiting the coming savior, trusting that he came once into the world and thus trusting that he will come again into the world. So we choose to baptize another child into this faith that supports us even as the world around us falls apart. What a gift we have to be a people of hope no matter what. What a gift our baptism brings to us as we can look at all that is wrong and remain in our faith. What a gift this infant we await, born to perfectly ordinary parents and thus as God among us. What a gift that we renew each time we acknowledge our brokenness and that God can continue to use us.

I will close by simply suggesting that as we baptize this child this morning you remind yourself of the promises that were given to you in your baptism. I will suggest then, that should bring you a sense a peace, which you will have the opportunity to share. We then come together around the table to be fed with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, that we might be renewed and nourished for the journey. All of this then prepares us to go back out from this place living as a source of light and hope in the world, which very much needs us.