RCL C Proper 22 Complementary
Habakkuk 1:1-4 and 2:1-4, Psalm 37:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Saint Luke 17:5-10

A depth and a prophecy accompanied the coolness of the air and the rains this week. We can tell that something is about to happen. Things are about to change. And when I looked at the Readings this week, a similar depth and a similar prophecy seemed to be right before my eyes. What is about to happen; what are we about to experience?

We know that the leaves have begun to fall and that after that the winter will come. There will be snow and ice. The temperature will change accordingly. Some days will not rise above the freezing point.

And the weather has a parallel in the Scriptures and in our lives. And that parallel leads us to the end of our experience and to the end of what we know.

The prophet Habakkuk reaches the end of his experience and the end of what he knows. He sees destruction and violence; he sees contention and the failure of justice. He stands at his watchpost waiting upon the Lord and what the Lord will have to say about these things. And the resolution, the spring that follows winter, is this: “the righteous live by their faith.”[1] Things are so bad, the law is so disrespected, the violence so pervasive, that the prophet holds on to the only thing he has. It seems that things cannot get any worse. The only roof over his head in this snowstorm is to cling to his faith. It is as though he’s going over a deadly waterfall, and only one tree branch can possibly save him. “The righteous live by their faith.”

And so, the disciples say to Jesus, “Increase our faith.”[2] And Jesus’ reply as much as suggests that they have not a great deal of faith to hold on to. His reply begins, “If you had faith…”[3]

And so, the question is, when winter approaches, when Jerusalem is about to be taken into captivity, when we’re about to take the plunge over a deadly waterfall, what do we hold on to? What is there for us to cling to until spring, until the Temple is rebuilt, until we see God face to face?

The answer that Jesus gives in the Gospel trims our relationship with God to its barest essential. The slave prepares the master’s food who dines first. The slave does as he is commanded. We are to do the same. We are to do what God asks us to do, and that is enough. Plunging headlong over a waterfall, waiting on the rampart for the attack on Jerusalem to begin, bracing for winter’s icy chill, we have but a thread to hold on to. But it is a thread that comes from the living God. And it is enough. It is enough so that we shall see our boat on calm waters. We shall see Jerusalem restored. We shall see the first day of spring. We shall see him face to face. Remember the words of the Psalmist today, “Put your trust in the Lord and do good; * dwell in the land and feed on its riches.”[4]

[1] Habakkuk 2:4. NRSV.

[2] Saint Luke 17:5.

[3] Saint Luke 17:6.

[4] Psalm 37:3.