In the parable of the bridesmaids, we always want to identify with the bridesmaids who made it in to the wedding banquet. But is that really the best option? Was that group really the best witness of faithfulness? It’s time we rethink this parable, and admit, that while we may identify with the prudent bridesmaids, having sufficient oil for ourselves, in reality, we’re just as foolish as the morons who forgot their oil.
This All Saints Day, we are reminded of the work God is already doing in the world, and the end to which God is already working. As we remember the saints, we don’t celebrate their selfishness, or their tribalism – we remember their call to see our lives as part of something much greater, as part of God’s created. May we remember the saints, and be reminded of God’s eternal glory, that we may serve as the next generation of saints, sharing in the work of God’s grander vision for all of creation.
The Bible is full of examples of what it means to ‘walk humbly with your God,’ and they help us understand what Micah is instructing to God’s faithful community. But walking humbly isn’t an isolated instruction. Micah’s instructions are offered as one word of guidance, and to be faithful, we must follow all three of them in tandem.
Micah calls the people of Israel to humbly walk with God. But what does a humble walk look like? Why don’t we start with humility … what is humility? Not an easy question to answer, but the Biblical witness gives us some guiding words.
Mercy is the willingness of the one who has power to withhold such power, or to shift such power, for the purpose of God’s greater justice: so that all of humanity, all of God’s created, might share equally in community with one another. But what does it mean to LOVE mercy?
To a nation that was broken with transgression, Micah offers three simple instructions. The second of which is to ‘love mercy.” As we hear the prophet speaking to us today, to a nation torn apart by transgression, what does it mean for us to ‘love mercy’ today? First, we have to know what is ‘mercy.’
Justice is the desire of God, maintained throughout the Biblical text. Both the Old and New Testament stories proclaim this as the will of God. But the text also makes clear, this is Godly work we are to participate in – as the prophets declare, we are to be ‘doing’ justice.
We hear the word ‘justice’ thrown around a lot these days. “Social justice,” “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” “justice for Breonna Taylor,” and so on. Micah, among other prophets, also used the word as a primary instruction to the people of God, saying, “Do justice.” Before we can understand what it means to ‘do’ this thing called justice, we have to understand what the Bible means by ‘justice’ itself. With over 400 uses in the Biblical text, the Word of God makes clear what is ‘justice.’
In this midst of a continuing pandemic, and amidst the varying hardships overwhelming our nation, you make ask of God, what do you want of us? How can we see your divine healing in this land? Micah offers guidance in just such a situation – so listen to the Lord. The answer is living with God, and living for others. Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk humbly with your God.
In a political season, when words tend to fly freely from our mouths, it’s important to remember the text of James 3. It’s not the tongue that curses and blesses, it’s the words we convey and express with the tongue. How can we use our words to bless, and not to curse?