In The Case of God vs. God’s People

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Micah 6:1-8

This week the Tuskawilla Community will be led in worship and in the celebration of Holy Communion by Pastor Kate. Her service and leadership allows me to worship with Andrew on his first Sunday at Montverde UMC. Thank you, Pastor Kate and thank you, Church for creating this space for me to be and worship with my family this weekend.

Speaking of family – some of my seminary family are in town this week – Sarah and Dan. Sarah is the pastor at Rehoboth Congregational Church (UCC) in Rehoboth, MA and Dan is the pastor at Manchester First UMC in Manchester, GA. I love these two and I am so thankful to spend time with them.

As I pondered the Scripture lesson Pastor Kate will share with the Tuskawilla Community this week and my reunion with Sarah and Dan, I was reminded of a lecture in the Hebrew Bible class that Sarah, Dan, and I heard while in seminary. Dr. David Petersen – incredible Hebrew Bible scholar and possessor of glorious mutton-chop sideburns for days! – invited his students – all 163 of us – to envision this Scripture from Micah being spoken (read) in a courtroom.

  • The defendant – the people of Israel
  • The plaintiff – the Holy God of Israel
  • The court reporter – Micah, the prophet

God’s people were on trial. The time had come for them to account for their actions. God’s actions were very visible: God brought them up out of slavery and delivered them into the Promised Land. God fortified the people. God forgave the people. God’s actions brought light to the people…and God’s people continually chose to act and live within the world of shadows.

Like in modern-day court cases and trials, restitution must be made. How shall the restitution be made? Not through lavish sacrifices. Not through burnt offerings of oil, rams, or a first-born child. Restitution shall be made this way: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

There is great familiarity with the verdict found in Micah 6:8, but the verse’s power and intensity strengthens when we interpret it in context with the surrounding verses. Hearing our summons to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” can sound very idyllic when the context, or circumstances, of Micah 6 are anything but idyllic. God’s people are being confronted by our Creator. All the evidence is on the table. There is nowhere to hide. This raw, vulnerable place becomes the seedbed for restitution – and because of God’s grace – the seedbed of regeneration.

We do not have to look far into the world to see where we are still falling short of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God. People are dying; houses of worship are burning; racism, prejudices, and hate are bubbling to and through boiling points. Each consecutive wound leaves another scar on Christ’s body and on the Body of Christ. Friends, our Savior’s body is scarred enough and with each act of harm we carve the wounds all the deeper.

When I see a scar, I remember the incident that formed it, and that remembrance is encouragement enough for me to not repeat the behavior. I have a very substantial scar on the front of my left leg just above my ankle. It was the case of 6-year-old Sarah riding her banana-seat bike without training wheels vs. a barbed wire fence. The fence won the battle, but I won the war because I did not run into a barbed wire fence ever again.

Friends, humanity on the whole is continuing to run into barbed wire fences…we must learn that our God is calling us to a more holy way. We have to stop our own running into these fences. We have to guide our neighbors in not running into these fences. It is within our power to stop this harmful behavior. We have this power and will to choose a more holy way because of God’s grace in our lives.

God calls us to be regenerated from our hunger for harm so we will thrive on God’s justice, God’s loving kindness, and God’s mercy. We have received God’s verdict. For the love of Christ and the wholeness of Christ’s Body, let us not waste one more day in living out God’s command.

Prayer: “Help each of us, gracious God, to live in such magnanimity and restraint that the Head of the church may never have cause to say to any one of us, This is my body, broken by you.” Amen.*

*”For the Unity of Christ’s Body,” The United Methodist Hymnal 564.

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