McFarland

Wednesday Meditation by Pastor Tim

Light a candle

Read Micah 6:6-8

 

“We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly;
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.” (ELW hymn #520)

I am thankful to our two Chris staff members for inspiring me with this song! At our Zoom high school graduation recognition on May 31, Youth Ministry Coordinator Chris Landerud shared this song. Last Sunday, during our on-line worship, Director of Music Chris Malueg also led us in singing these words. I am grateful for the multi-talented tandem of Chrises, and for all our staff who work to inspire our congregation to engage in God’s call to mission.

A few years ago, when we celebrated our 150th anniversary, this hymn “We Are Called” made the Top Ten favorite hymns of MLC. Today, it speaks to this moment in our nation and world, as we struggle to find our footing during a global pandemic that has affected millions, and as we seek racial justice, healing and reconciliation following the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The hymn was inspired by the words of the prophet Micah, who lived and ministered during a tumultuous time in Israel’s history (around 722 BCE and the destruction of Samaria in the northern kingdom). Micah was principally concerned with ethical issues, especially political and religious leaders who exploited their people for economic gain (see 3:1-8 and 6:9-16).

In the reading today, Micah proclaims what is at the heart of God’s covenant with the leaders and people of Israel. A right relationship with Yahweh is not based on performing religious ceremonies or offering a myriad of sacrifices, but rather living out God’s steadfast love. The covenant God has made with us comes with the expectation that we strive to live according to God’s character. God is concerned not only about how we talk the talk, but how we walk the walk!

The summary of our call comes in verse 6, in three parts: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. The word for “do justice” means to work for the fairness and equality of all, with special care for those who are exploited or powerless. This goes along with the second part: “to love kindness” or “to have steadfast love.” Justice and love describe who God is, and how God wants us to live together. Finally, we are to walk humbly with God. Yahweh is the One who brought us into this covenant of life, and Yahweh walks with us. To be in relationship with God means that we allow God to lead us to care for our neighbors, act with love not coercion, and have a spirit of humility and servanthood.

In a world groaning with so much division, hate and fear, we need this word from Micah to remember the One who has called and continues to call us. We are to speak and act with justice and love for all of God’s children—regardless of race, income, ethnicity, political affiliation, or religion. Where there are wounds and deep pain because of racism or other forms of oppression, we are to walk humbly, listen carefully, and seek understanding. Where there is unspeakable violence against human beings, we are to walk humbly in the way of non-violent love for those who are afraid.

I recently saw a quote from Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. that reflects Micah’s summary of the ethical life. It was from a speech he gave in 1956, at the beginning of his ministry as a civil rights activist. Dr. King said: “We need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity.” (quoted from teachforamerica.org)

This is for the church as well, dear friends. May God give us strength to love justice and love humanity, as we strive to live in the reign of God that has arrived in the love, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly;
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”

Study Questions

1) Why does Micah emphasize ethics over sacrifices and ceremonies? How would you describe what a right relationship with God looks like?

2)In our context of the global pandemic and unrest over racial injustice, what actions speak of God’s covenant of justice and love? What helps you remember that you belong to this covenant?

3) Doing justice, loving kindness, walking humbly. As you read or listen to current events, or events in your daily life, look for stories of justice, kindness and humility. How do these stories reveal God to you?

Prayer

God of Life, God of Love, you have made us your own through the covenant of Holy Baptism, and you call us to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with you. Strengthen us in this calling, and help us to reflect your justice and love in our daily lives. We pray for all those grieving the death of George Floyd, your beloved child. Surround with your presence all those who live in uncertainty, anger, fear and danger. Bring healing and compassion to those who are ill and those lacking adequate health care, food and housing. Help us to trust that you are with us always. In Christ we pray. Amen.