As the daily lectionary continues to move through the minor prophets of the Old Testament it is interesting to hear how compelling those ancient prophets can be even today. Take for instance the prophet Haggai who opens his message by talking about how the people need to tend to the House of the Lord and not only their own affairs.
Haggai prophesied after the return from the Babylonian Exile when the surviving remnant found their much cherished promised land left in ruins, the Temple included. But like most people they saw to their own affairs and it took someone to speak truth to power before work on God's House, the Second Temple, could begin.
Haggai's words are especially telling as we all struggle with what it means to live within the new realities of our world after the financial meltdown of one year ago. Many of us are making the effort to live within our means and we are hopeful that we are not the only ones, but that those who run Wall Street and sit in the Halls of Power are also doing their best to live responsibly and keep policies in place that avoid another crisis.
Then again, many of us suspect that the old temptations of greed and power have not really gone away; that they are just waiting to reassert themselves and that's where hearing Haggai's 2500 year old word from God is interesting to hear this morning. In his effort to get the powers of his day to rethink a right way to live Haggai said:
"Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes."I don't know about you, but to me that sounds an awful lot like consumerism: a lifestyle of never being satisfied. When we are consumed by such a way of living then making time to think about God, to focus on God, becomes difficult. And especially at this time of year when consumerism and shopping are so much a part of what Christmas has become, maybe listening in to the prophets of Israel might do us some good.