By Michael Smith

Reading from Micah, 6:1-8

1 Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2Hear, 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! 4For 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. 5O 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? 7Will 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?” 8He 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?

Meditation

In the book of Micah, God has lost patience with the chosen people. They have repaid divine favor, redemption, and goodness with human tyranny, corruption, and oppression of the poor. There are consequences for continued obstinance in this course of action. In their case, God’s judgment will lead them to a time of exile and defeat, but all is not lost. This discipline will also precede a period of purification when a group of God’s people, a remnant of those faithful to the covenant, will emerge. Then God’s people will finally understand what is required of them: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.”

The qualities of justice, kindness, and humility seem to be in short supply these days. This season of racial hostility, contentious elections, and pandemic seem an especially good time for today’s covenant people to demonstrate the response expected by God. Even if only a remnant acts by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our Creator, God is honored and will bless and multiply our meager offerings. Do not despair, for all is not lost!

The Rt. Rev. Michael G. Smith served as Bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. He and his wife, the Rev. Lisa White Smith, are the parents of three and grandparents of nine.

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