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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 4, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Micah 6:1–8

Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 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. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! 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. 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.”

“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? 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?” 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? (NRSV)

This passage reminds me of a hard conversation between a parent and an adolescent. (And I can remember a few painful examples from my own life.)

Parent: What the heck? After all I have done for you, why are you acting like I’m the one at fault? What do you have to say for yourself? I saved you, provided for you, forgave you again and again [insert specifics here] . . . and what do I get in return? Worse than nothing.

Adolescent: I know. How can I make it up to you? What can I do [insert grand gestures here] to make you not be mad at me anymore?

And that’s when we get to Micah 6:8, some of the most famous words in all of scripture: so lilting in their poetry that they are regularly put to song and so challenging in their meaning that we regularly forget to do them after we sing.

God does not want or need our grand gestures. God wants us to “do justice”: not just think about what is right and good but to actually do it. Even when it is inconvenient or unpopular or about the last thing we want to do. God wants us to “love kindness”: not just to hope to be kind but to actually work at being so. Even when we don’t like the other person or have been wronged or when it means putting others’ needs before our own. God wants us to “walk humbly with God”: not just to canonize our own agenda and call it inspired. Even when we would rather trust in our own gifts or seek security in what has always worked for us before.

It’s an uncomfortable exchange. It’s supposed to be.

God, who is mother and father to me, call me to be the person you intended. Help me, daily, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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