Christ the King Sunday -- The Last Sunday after Pentecost (text from The Bible in 90 Days) 11/22/2009

Justice, Kindness, Humility

Lessons:     Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14     Psalm 93 (2)     Revelation 1:4b-8     John 18:33-37     Semicontinuous Series         2 Samuel 23:1-7         Psalm 132:1-12 [13-18] (9)   Prayer of the Day     Almighty and ever-living God, you anointed your beloved Son to be priest and sovereign forever. Grant that all the people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united by the glorious and gentle rule of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Text from "The Bible in 90 Days"

6:1 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?"

Micah 6:1-8 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

There isn’t much that we actually know about Micah, other than what we can deduce from reading this book of prophecy. He probably was from southern Judah, and a contemporary of the better-known prophet Isaiah. His message has much in common with the message of Isaiah. They both witnessed the power of the Assyrian armies that  swept through Israel (the northern kingdom) and conquered it in the latter third of the eighth century before Christ. They both were convinced that unless Judah (the southern kingdom) changed its ways, it would meet the same fate as its northern neighbor. They both had a deep concern for justice, and believed that Judah’s idolatrous self absorption was in direct opposition to everything God had called them to be. And so both Micah and Isaiah called God’s people (leaders and citizens alike) to reform their ways or meet complete destruction.

This week’s passage, from the sixth chapter of Micah, refers to the conflict between God and the people of Judah. In verses 1-5 God is declared to have a case against them. God has been faithful in watching over them, rescuing them from their slavery, and guiding them into the Promised Land. But they have turned away from God, ignoring the needy in their midst, and seeking security in military and political alliances with foreign nations. In verses 6-7 we read of their desperate (and misguided) response. “Shall we bring burnt offerings? Shall we offer year-old calves, or thousands of rams, or gallons of oil? Should we offer our firstborn, in exchange for forgiveness?” They know the stories. They have studied the scriptures. They understand that when they fail to be God’s people there will necessarily be a price to pay. And so they wonder out loud what that price might be. What might they give to purchase God’s favor again? What might appease God’s anger at them?

The people think of sacrifice, but God has something else in mind. Micah tells them that God doesn’t want their offerings. God doesn’t want their hollow religious responses. God, instead, wants their very souls. Micah, speaking for God, calls them to, “Do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

These are the virtues that please God. These are signs of true worship. These are glimpses of what a life looks like when God resides at the very center of it. It looks like justice. It looks like kindness. It looks like humility.

These are hard words: hard words because justice, kindness, and humility are not virtues universally adored in our world. Self-preservation; fierce opposition to opponents; determination: these are the virtues that people in our time honor. We teach them to our children. We elect leaders who aspire to them. We organize our political and social and economic structures around them. And in such a context, there is little room for justice or kindness or humility.

These are hard words, because with them God calls us away from much that people value today. God calls us away from the same self-absorption that was ancient Israel’s and Judah’s demise. To the extent that we reject this call, we face the same fate as our ancestors did some 2700 years ago. But to the extent that we are able to hear this call and reform our lives, we will discover the rich joy of living a life that is grounded in God’s grace.

Justice. Kindness. Humility. These are the virtues that God commands of us. May we be bold in allowing them to shape our lives – so that we might know the life God wants us to experience. Amen.

David J. Risendal Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Text:

  1. What did Micah identify as Israel’s sin? (see 2.1-2, 8-9, 3:11, 6:16)
  2. According to Micah, what lay ahead for God’s people if they refused to return to godly living?
  3. How does Micah describe the essence of the faithful life?

Connecting with This Week’s Text:

  1. How does my life measure up to Micah’s preaching? (In what ways do I work on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society? What do I do to care for those who are passing through my country? How does my life display the virtues of honesty and integrity?)
  2. How could I grow in my dedication to justice, kindness, and humility?
  3. How might change in this respect make a difference in my experience of life?

Scheduled Readings for "The Bible in 90 Days" 9/13/2009 - 12/12/2009


Begin Reading At Sermon Based On
9/13 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1-19
9/20 Leviticus 1:1 Exodus  16:2-15
9/27 Deuteronomy 23:12 Deuteronomy 6:1-9
10/4 1 Samuel 28:20 Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18
10/11 1 Chronicles 1:1 1 Kings 3:5-12
10/18 Nehemiah 13:15 Nehemiah 1:4-11a
10/25 Psalm 89:14 Job 38:1-11
11/1 Isaiah 14:1 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
11/8 Jeremiah 33:23 Isaiah 25:6-9
11/15 Daniel 9:1 Ezekiel 2:1-5
11/22 Matthew 26:57 Micah 6:1-8
11/29 Acts 6:8 John 20:19-31
12/6 Hebrews 1:1 Romans 5:1-11