Justice, Kindness, and Humility (Micah 6:1-8)

 

Reviewing Micah 6:1-8

Listen for here is what is being insisted upon us in the name of God. Perhaps. Go ahead and plead your case. Tell everyone what plans you have devised to build the good life. Give your best rationale; lay out your well-rehearsed defense of what you want to do. Then measure that against what we, as a people, have experienced in the name of God. Perhaps. Do you remember Egypt? And the leadership of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam? Recall for a moment the exchange between King Balak and Balaam of Beor or what we experienced from Shittim to Gilgal. As a people we were quite clear — we were the recipients of grace upon grace in the name of God. Perhaps. So, with memory of that sacred history, what is it to which we are persistently and insistently called? It certainly is not all the trappings of the temple liturgies of sacrificing burnt offerings. Is it not much more simple? The insistence that comes upon each one of us in the name of God (perhaps) is that we build our lives around justice, kindness, and humility.

A Mutational Shift

Mark 1:4-11

John, a throw-back to the prophets of the First Testament, came preaching the gospel of an apocalyptic Messiah who would establish God’s reign of Goodness on earth, banishing all evil. In order to prepare for this Messiah, John baptized people into a repentance and a new obedience to God. While he baptized with cleansing waters of the Jordan (the unifying waterway of the people of Israel), he anticipated the coming of the Messiah who would baptize with fire. While water might cleanse the surface, fire would cauterize the inner being.

We don’t know what motivated Yeshua to come to John’s baptismal liturgy. His decision to do so, however, signaled the beginning of a new era in human history. Something new was afoot, brewing in the inner being of Yeshua. His descent into the waters of baptism was likely similar to that of all the others who came to John — some combination of curiosity, a sense of incompleteness, a desire for change and renewal, a longing for deeper connection with God, and/or hope for the restoration of Israel. His ascent out of the water, coupled with his wilderness experience, could best be described as one of the “hinges of history.” The world would never be the same again. As he came out of the water he experienced the beginnings of a shaping of his calling, an insistence in the name of God. Perhaps.

Yeshua’s experience was three-fold:  First, he experienced the tearing open of God’s very being. God was now vulnerable to human experience. Secondly, Yeshua encountered the presence of Spirit (God, mystery, divinity) as an inner reality (a shift from heavenly realms to the human psyche). Third, his discernment affirmed a calling to a messianic vocation (though not the apocalyptic Messiah that John was awaiting.) It is likely that there was great intra-psychic conflict within Yeshua at this point. It was that conflict that led / drove him to the wilderness where the shape of his messianic vocation would be completed.

Today’s scientists tell us that humankind is the universe’s capacity for consciousness and self-reflection. Prior to Yeshua’s baptism / wilderness experiences, God had been perceived as the dynamic power of the universe that acted upon human beings – a mysterious Other that interposed itself in and through the nations of the world (with a special perceived relationship with Israel). Beginning with Yeshua’s baptism / wilderness experiences, a theological, spiritual quantum shift occurred. God was now to be experienced within the depths of human consciousness — Yeshua being the first fruits of this mutational shift. God now had consciousness — a shift from awesome (magnificent and terrifying) power to a weak, vulnerable force best described as ‘love.’ God was the ‘Thou” which is to be experienced within and in relationship with others (especially the poor, distressed, and suffering).

Pulled into the Path that Yeshua Walks

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison) July 18, 1944:

Being a Christian does not mean being religious in a certain way, making oneself into something or other (a sinner, penitent, or saint) according to some method or other. Instead, it means being human, not a certain type of human being, but the human being Christ creates in us. It is not a religious act that makes one a Christian, but rather sharing in God’s suffering in the worldly life. That is μετανοία , not thinking first of one’s own needs, questions, sins, and fears but allowing oneself to be pulled into the path that Jesus walks, into the messianic event, in which Isa. 53 is now being fulfilled! … This being pulled along into the – messianic – suffering of Godin Jesus Christ happens … in various ways … The one thing they all have in common is their sharing in the suffering of God in Christ. … Jesus calls us not to a new religion but to life. But what is this life like? this life is participating in God’s powerlessness in the world. I’ll write more about this next time, I hope. For today I’ll just say this: If one wants to speak of God “nonreligiously,” then one must speak in such a way that the godlessness of the world is not covered up in any way, but precisely to uncover it and surprise the world by letting light shine upon it. The world come of age is more god-less and because of that closer to God than the world not come of age. (page 466-7)

Let Faith Weaken

“The Kingdom is made up of beings of a deeper darker faith communicating in a midnight rendezvous, what ever they may “rightly pass for” during daylight hours.  …  Such people dare to let their faith weaken in order to allow a more underlying but unstable faith break through and to admit the appearance of a more elementary hope in a more indelible but indiscernible promise.”

John Caputo, Hoping Against Hope: Confessions of a Postmodern Christian  (2015), page 102

Local Boy Makes Good

Mark 6:1-13

Yeshua headed home with the disciples in tow. On the sabbath he was invited to preach in the synagogue where he astounded many. They wondered how a local boy, without any formal education, could be so wise. They were aware that he seemed to exude a kind of spiritual power. Not at all what they expected from the son of a local tradesman, one whose very family they all knew. Suspecting that Yeshua was lording it over them, they took offense. Yeshua responded, “Prophets are respected everywhere except where they are personally known — home town, family, even their own home.” Their lack of respect surprised him.

He left there to teach in the surrounding villages. He gathered the twelve together and commissioned them to go out in pairs, taking nothing with them but a walking stick, the clothes on their back, and the sandals on their feet. They were to accept hospitality along the way, and not be dismayed when hospitality was not offered. In that latter instance they were simply to move on. He told them that they were commissioned with the authority to preach and heal. And that is exactly what they did.

Do we (can we) function with that same authority?

In Weakness, Strength

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

An acquaintance, a follower of Yeshua, had a mystical experience 14 years ago. As a result he understands things that most of us can’t grasp. While I have had a similar experience, I want to talk about my weakness and short-comings, not my strengths or superiority, so that no one will think that I am lording it over them. In fact, one of my short-comings is like a thorn in my flesh. I kept praying that it would go away, but an insistence in the name of God (perhaps) kept nudging and nagging at me suggesting that one result of the grace I had received was that the understanding of power and weakness was turned upside-down and inside-out. I have come to realize that if I only rely on my strengths, that I have blocked the messianic from even touching me. So, I have become content with my weaknesses and short-comings; I am willing to continue facing rigors and hardships, trials and tribulations. All this for the messianic which was initiated by Yeshua, for in my weakness I find strength and energy.

That Troubling Voice

Isaiah 58:1-12

Pay attention, you people who consider yourselves to be specially connected to God. Take stock of your behavior; let it proclaim whose side you are on! While you pretend to be God’s, you serve your own interests. You argue and present a mean countenance while you strike out at those around you. Your actions shackle others, enslaving them in rules and regulations designed to feather your nest. And you do so with self-righteous arrogance that proclaims itself as God’s will. No way! If you listened more carefully, you just might hear a small voice within you suggesting, nudging, nagging you to pay attention to the hunger of others while you feast in the luxury of your abundance.

That troubling voice which upsets you (if you would only allow it to) is the voice that comes in the name of God. Perhaps. Let me put it more clearly: when you are troubled (even in the least) about what you have and/or about what others lack, that is God speaking directly to you.

Pay attention! God’s voice always stands with the oppressed and against injustice. Feed the hungry and oppose every system and structure that strives to keep them hungry. Stand with the afflicted and listen for the causes of their affliction so that you may help the afflicted overcome them. That is the way to get on God’s side. Do that and you will be a beacon in the darkness, a fresh spring in the desert. Then you will have laid a foundation upon which future generations can build, a community which bears the name of God. Perhaps.

Mustard Seed

Mark 4:26-34

 Yeshua taught, “The Commonwealth of Peace and Justice does not arrive in its full, mature state. It comes more like the sprouting of a seedling — perhaps like a mustard seed that is so small, yet it grows to substantial size (large enough that wild animals and birds can take up residence).

[Image from: 2.bp.blogspot.com/–NRaZnDdqms/VTI6an3Yc3I/AAAAAAAACQ4/Q95GPEfdEZ4/s1600/mustard-seed-plant.gif]

Don’t be dismayed that you only experience the seeds of the Commonwealth.. Those seeds are the promise of an impossible possibility.

Yeshua taught using images and metaphors and parables, leaving us to figure out the meaning. It was only in  private that he explained the deeper meaning to his disciples. Sometimes, today, we in the church could use a private session.

 

 

 

 

 
   

 

 

 

 

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/–NRaZnDdqms/VTI6an3Yc3I/AAAAAAAACQ4/Q95GPEfdEZ4/s1600/mustard-seed-plant.gif

 

Don’t be dismayed that you only experience the seeds of the Commonwealth.. Those seeds are the promise of an impossible possibility.

 

Yeshua taught using images and metaphors and parables, leaving us to figure out the meaning. It was only in  private that he explained the deeper meaning to his disciples. Sometimes, today, we in the church could use a private session.

Privileged – Responsible

1 Peter 2:9-25

Privileged to have heard God’s call
     responsible to make God present in the world
          wisdom instead of foolishness
          honor instead of humiliation
          justice instead of corruption
          mercy instead of meanness
          healing instead if woundedness
          unity instead of alienation

When We Respond

Psalm 104:24-35

O Lord, you have insisted and your people have responded with wisdom. And not just your people; so also the creatures of land and sea. There are natural processes that provide sustenance for the creatures. When those processes are impeded, the creatures die off. When people don’t experience insistence, an unheard inner calling in the name of God (perhaps), they become anxious and are filled with consternation. When they re-claim a sense of calling their lives are refreshed and God becomes present to the world once again. When that happens, the earth will tremble and the volcanos will spew forth smoke and steam. As long as I live, I will meditate on the significance of all that exists in the name of God. Perhaps. To the sidelines with those of you who can’t stomach the idea that there is a religious spirit in people who respond to a calling. As for me, I will continue to live my life as a response to an insistence, an unheard inner calling, in the name of God. Perhaps.