Prophets have a way of getting to the heart of a matter. In today's text, the heart of the matter is a theme that is common in the message of the prophets of Israel—God's mishpat, God's justice. In the text, Israel has sinned and is seeking a return to God's good graces. But how? By what means? By burnt offerings, rivers of oil, or perhaps a firstborn sacrifice? All of these would demonstrate a certain kind of devotion, but they don't get to the heart of things. What matters, says Micah, is "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God."
These words from Micah 6:8 are etched in sight near the main entrance to the faith community Our congregation has chosen to make these words their motto, but they don't treat the words as a mere slogan. They walk the talk. They find many ways to embody God's restorative justice, which seeks well-being for all. They also recognize that they do not walk in the ways of justice to get back into God's good graces. Rather, it is the grace of God that frees them to serve.
God of mercy and compassion, give us kind and loving hearts that seek the best for all our neighbors. Amen.
Micah 6:1-8 (NRSV)
1 Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel.
3 "O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord."
6 "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
8 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?