With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Bible Reading: Micah 6:6-8
This Old Testament passage from the Prophet Micah is one of the most well-known texts of the twelve Minor Prophets. Although much less is known about the Micah than the Major Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (for example), he can be dated to approximately 721 BCE, the time period of the deportation of the northern part of the land of Israel during the oppression of the nation of Assyria.
Micah was a prophet in the southern part of the country, Judah, but he would have been well aware of the devastation and oppression caused by Assyria in the northern part of his country. Micah speaks out from God’s perspective against idolatry, injustice, rebellion and empty worship, but he also proclaims God’s delight in pardoning the penitent.
The wonderful thing about the prophets is that, although they spoke to a specific historical situation, their words are timeless. So it is with Micah.
Micah addressed the people of God with the message that their hearts and their worship must be right, because only then can we truly connect with God and be his people in the world. Only when our hearts and worship are right will we have the strength, creativity and passion to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.
After Easter we often consider the lovely story in Luke’s Gospel of the Walk to Emmaus. It’s a story of an actual walk, but it also describes a journey of faith. You can read it in Luke 24:13-35.
Walking was the main method of transportation then. It would be normal for many conversations to take place as people walked together. And so it was on that day that two of Jesus’ followers are journeying home to Emmaus. They are talking and grieving over the fact that the unthinkable has happened, that Jesus had been captured, tortured and crucified.
They tell the stranger who joins them on their journey that, equally unthinkable, some of the women of their group had reported an empty tomb, a fact that was confirmed by some of the men of their group (women’s testimony being unacceptable then).
Their physical walk turns into a spiritual journey through the Scriptures, as Jesus in his unrecognized reality, reminds them that they are too slow to believe all that the prophets have declared. Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
It’s when the journey is complete, when the walking is done, that Jesus’ followers recognize him in his action of the breaking of the bread. He opened the Scriptures to them during the journey, and that opening enabled them to truly recognize him and believe.
As followers of Jesus, we journey together as all brothers and sisters in Christ, responding, as his diverse and united people, to the call to walk with the vulnerable, to proclaim his name, and move forward in vibrant faith.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
This beautiful and familiar passage from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians reminds us that are united in Christ, and move forward together.
Although it doesn’t overtly use the vocabulary of walking or journeying, it’s about God always making the divine way towards us. God approached the Galatians in an unmerited and unconditional way, and approaches us in a like manner.
We are all different, but our unity in Christ should draw us closer in our respect for each another, recognising and celebrating our differences.
We are all Easter people in a Good Friday world.
In a world of injustice, there is hope. It’s at the point where God’s love and justice meet, in the Cross of Jesus. That symbol of vulnerability is at the heart of our faith, the place where God’s love was demonstrated and his justice shown.
Let’s make sure we walk together as Christians, and with all those who are seeking peace, justice and righteousness in the world.