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Archive for January, 2011

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 30, 2011

First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

 

Micah 6:1-8

What Does the Lord Require?

 

Micah 6:8 … and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

1. Way In

We are just meeting each other – some for the first time today

I am looking forward to getting to know you

I am already familiar with the community

Already enjoyed a couple of meals at the Tavern

I am interested to know your favorites – suggestions?

Period of familiarization

Learn each other’s personality

Take some time

Pot-luck today is a good way to start

Is Joe here to stay?

I had a good feeling since my first meeting with your PNC

Good chemistry, easily shared ideas with each other

How will Joe fit with the life and ministry of FPCYS?

I want to make the best use of my time early on

Want to get to know you

Visit you: home, work, where you hang out (eat, drink coffee, etc.)

Method

Propose some gatherings

At the church for meals

In your homes with other church folks from your neighborhood

Interested in meeting your friends who aren’t church friends

Feel free to invite them, too

2. Tell the Story

Intro

The Prophet Micah

OT Prophet

8th c. BCE

Minor Prophet

One of the 12

Nothing to do with significance

Rather with length of the book

Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel,

Columbia Seminary story

For an exam

A student, given Dr. B’s emphasis on the kings of Israel

Spent most of his study time learning these

Learned their reigns and significance

Able to give these backward and forward

On the actual day of the exam

This student was mortified to find …

Only a few multiple choice questions about the kings of Israel

And the bulk of the exam was a discussion question

Name the Minor Prophets of the OT

Give their dates, and significance of these books of the Bible

This student had nothing

He could name a few of the 12

But that was about it

Made an attempt to recover…

“Dr. Brueggemann

I do not feel that it is my place to say which if these prophets are minor or major

It would be impertinent of me to make any judgement on these magnificent men of the Bible

However.

I will take some time here to share with you

about the kings of Israel

Context

Prophets

Not tellers-of-the-future

But the ones who speak out

With the words of God

Calling the people back to God’s ways

Justice-oriented

Champion of the oppressed

Corruption in leadership, worshipping other gods besides YHWH

(Chap. 1)Micah warns that Israel will be made a heap in the open country

Because of idolatry, images and idols

Micah, the prophet, frames his warnings like an arraignment of Israel for her crimes

Exegesis

The Trial, vv.1-2

scene is a court of law, “plead your case”

Israel on trial for breaking the covenant made at Sinai

The whole of creation is witness

Mountains, hills, foundations of the earth

YHWH brings complaint against Israel, “his people”

The Charges, vv. 3-5

Israel has forgotten what YHWH did for them – acts of power to show them the power of YHWH

Brought Israel up out of Egypt to redeem them from slavery

YHWH took the initiative in redemption

Provided leadership

Moses, Aaron, Miriam

Moses: leader, lawgiver

Aaron, spokesman before Pharaoh

Miriam: song leader and dancer; celebrating God’s victory at the Red Sea

These three summarize God’s gift to the Jews

Exodus from Egypt

Leaving, surviving, celebration

Stopped Balak’s scheme (Num. 22-24)

Provided save passage across the Jordan River

Left their camp at Shittim and crossed over to Gilgal

Shittim: Joshua commissioned to succeed Moses (Num. 27:23)

Israel’s defense, vv. 6-7

How can we make amends?

Although not admitting guilt, Israel is looking for a way out, a way to make things OK

Micah is clear that false worship is no replacement for justice and steadfast love

Present offerings?

Burnt offerings

Oils for anointing

Our children, firstborn

Prohibitions against child-sacrifice (Lev. 20:2-3, Deut 12:31, Ezek. 20:26, Jer. 7:31, 19:5)

Micah expands these with irony and hyperbole

“thousands of rams,” “ten thousands rivers of oil”

Micah speaks the word of God, v. 8

None of these, you know what the Lord requires

Not just empty, if not costly, offerings

God requires “simple” conversion

Do justice מִשְׁפָּט֙

Actively engaged in the redistribution of power in the world, to correct the systemic inequalities that marginalize some while others enjoy excessive comfort

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

“Justice, justice shall you pursue…” (Deuteronomy 16:2

Love kindness חֶ֔סֶד

Hesed: steadfast love, enduring fidelity

Walk humbly with your God

Walk in his ways

Abandon self-sufficiency, acknowledge in daily attitude and act that life is indeed derived from the reality of God (Texts for Preaching: Year A”)

These summarize the legal, liturgical, and covenantal requirements of religion

Be with God in the world, living out God’s desires for a community of justice and faithful love

3. So What?

As I said before

Micah reminds us that God is not as interested in how we worship

As how we pursue justice and steadfast love

For without these, our life of faith is empty

Sure, we may have beautiful music (which we do, here at FPC-YS)

But our music, and our worship are our celebration and praise of God

And it is all a part of our liturgy

Which comes from Greek leitourgía (λειτουργία)

The work of the people

It is our worship and fellowship in the church which

Compels us, prepares us, and sends us out

To bring about God’s kingdom in our community

So, as we get to know each other – pastor, congregation, friends

We will

learn each other’s personalities

hear each other’s stories

And that may take some time

But in the meantime …

The good news is

God has prepared for us a clear path

Do justice

Love Kindness (steadfast love)

Walk Humbly with our God

So as we are about our work

Liturgy – the work of the people

Getting to know one another – being the church

Let us never lose sight of what it is that God calls us to do

I was so proud of the community of the FPC-YS

To hear on WYSO

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Give the commencement address – here

Antioch College in 1965

And I call us to remember another address Dr. King Made

Atlanta, GA

Convention of the SCLC in 1967 marking the 10th anniv.

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice

And so, my friends – my new friends

Our journey is just beginning

And we have some work ahead of us

And as we go

On our way

As God’s people … together

Let nothing detract us, or distract us

For this journey, our journey if faith, is just like that …

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice

And that is precisely where God is calling us

To DO justice

LOVE kindness, and

WALK humbly with our God

So let it be with us. Amen.

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