Ramparts - Monday Musing, January 25, 2021
Ramparts. This is not a word that you come across very often. When was the last time you uttered this word in conversation? A defensive wall of a castle or a walled city is called a rampart. (I guess that explains why we haven’t used the word – you won’t find something like that on Cape Cod!). The prophet Habakkuk (612-589 BCE) used the word, writing: “I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what God will say to me.” (Hab 2:1 NRSV)
Habakkuk asked God why the people of Judah were not being punished for their sins. He couldn’t understand why a just God would allow such evil to exist. God promised to use the Babylonians to punish Judah. When Habakkuk cried out for answers in his time of struggle, God answered him with words of hope. By standing on a watchpost or watchtower, Habakkuk was placing himself where he would be in the best position to receive God’s message.
Where do we receive God’s word? Is there a singular place where we present ourselves to God to hear what God has to say to us? In a recent Stillspeaking Daily Devotional, Kaji Douša writes, “At the end of one of my favorites of my grandfather’s sermons, he shouted: ‘Even if you stand alone, stand!’” When I read these words, I thought it was not only important where we might find ourselves, where we might be open to receiving God’s word for us today, but also wondering who is standing with us in our faith journey.
In yesterday’s message, I said that ministry is not a solo activity, but rather one that requires companions along the way. The brothers called by Jesus in the scripture reading (Mark 1:14-20) show that discipleship requires dependability on others and the building of a shared relationship. The brothers in the reading abandoned their nets because they heard good news worthy of leaving their old life behind.Sensing God’s kingdom drawing near, they dropped what they were doing and responded to God’s call, becoming fishers of people. What about us? We are embarking on a new chapter of this ministry at The Federated Church of Orleans – are we keeping watch?
These are overwhelmingly challenging times: coronavirus, political divisions, health concerns, food insecurity, climate change, racism, and financial worries, to name a few. We are tasked with climbing up to the watchposts or into the ramparts, so to speak, in order to listen to God about how we are to meet the challenges we face today. It is humbling to put ourselves in the vulnerable position of waiting for an answer, an answer that may not be so clear, if it is received at all.
Habakkuk received his message from God on the ramparts. I invite you to stand watch with me as we listen for God’s word of hope for our day. Are you with me?