Micah 6 + Beatitudes

Micah 6:1-8

Click here for another post on this passage

Right now, it’s flippin’ cold. I’m sitting in my study with a blanket and one of those heated pads on my lap. I’ve just read a news story about the coal-fired power stations being put on standby so that we don’t get blackouts in case there’s a power shortage. Are we back in the 1970s?

Good news, folks. I have a much greener solution. Why don’t we just funnel all the hot air generated at parliament into peoples’ homes and heat them for free?

Gags aside, another source of energy is the heat generated recently by the Church of England about whether to bless gay marriages. A sensitive question and many on both sides are hurting. May God bless us with grace and peace.

Other denominations are still wrangling about the ordination of women. Skip back to New Testament times, and the issue generating the kilowatts was whether non-Jews could become Christians without becoming Jews first.

There have always been issues about which people have strong opinions and which have, sadly, often produced more heat than light resulting in division and animosity.

And yes, they are important. And yes, we are supposed to use our God-given brains to think seriously about our faith. And yes, we ALL have to admit that sometimes, even though we are firmly, absolutely, 100% convinced that we are right, we might just be wrong.

When I feel over-confident in my own rightness, I remind myself of an episode of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ – the old one with Chris Tarrant. I can’t remember the question, but the answer was Texas.

It was obviously Texas. Everyone knew it was Texas. We were all (ie, I was) shouting at the TV, “It’s Texas! Just say Texas!”

It was California.

I’ve never forgotten that. I was so utterly convinced that I was right, and I was wrong.

Micah 6:8 What does the LORD require of you but to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

The people of Judah thought they knew how to do the ‘God stuff’. They knew all about how to worship God. Their stupid relatives in the northern kingdom of Israel did it all wrong, and God said that Israel would be hauled off to exile, and they were. “Ha! Serves them right,” thought Judah. “They should have done it like us. We have a king in David’s line. We have Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. We do all the the sacrifices and the sabbaths. We’re doing it right.”

They were so utterly convinced that they were right, and they were wrong.

“I don’t give a damn about all that stuff,” says God. “Do you think I care two figs whether you offer a swimming-pool of wine and a mountain of cattle? I couldn’t care less!”

“You want to please me? You want to offer worship that doesn’t get up my nose for once? Here’s what to do: Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with me.”

That’s it.

Wow.

I spend a lot of my time being busy for God. I write this blog. I write a load of other stuff too. I read to fill my brain with good things so that I can write yet more stuff. I study, I ponder, I pray. I attend courses. I stand up at the front of rooms and say stuff to people.

And I’m not saying that any of that is wrong – it’s how I worship: offering my time and talents to God. And I’m not saying the worthy debates about what it means to be a faithful Christian in today’s society are wrong either – it’s important to link our Sunday lives with our Mondays. And the people of Judah doing their Temple sacrifices, they weren’t wrong either, it’s just that there was something more important. Real worship boils down to something very simple: Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.

In other words: Love people. Love God. Micah said it. Jesus said it. (Moses said it first, but we’re not counting.) Simple. Not easy, but simple.

Perhaps I need to remind myself of that, along with the California thing.


Liturgy Resources for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

Confession and Absolution

O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those whose walk is blameless, who do what is right, and speak truth from their heart.
Who act justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with their God.

Those who do not slander with their tongue, nor speak evil about their neighbour.
Who act justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with their God.

Those who honour and revere the Lord; who stand by their oath and keep their word.
Who act justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with their God.

O God, we confess that we have not acted justly, we have not loved mercy,
and we have not walked humbly with you, our God.
Forgive us, we pray,
for the sake of your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ,
who became for us wisdom and righteousness
and sanctification and redemption.
Amen.

May God, who is rich in mercy,
pardon and deliver us,
revive and restore us,
and set our feet on the way of peace.
Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

May you hunger and thirst for righteousness, and may you be filled.
May you be merciful, and may you receive mercy.
May you be pure in heart, and may you see God.

And the blessing of God: Father, Son, Spirit
be upon you and all those you love
this day, this week, and for ever.
Amen.

Go in the strength and wisdom of our God
to walk in his way and show his love to all.
Amen.


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