"But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might . . ." Micah 3.8a
This Sunday we leave the Exodus journey behind us. We move forward a thousand years, and we consider what happened to the descendants of those freed slaves and if the promised land truly became a utopia. Spoiler alert: it didn't. We hear the words of the prophet Micah, calling out the priests and rulers who have lost their way and corrupted justice. But he refused to lose hope in the promise God gave to those slaves. He proclaimed that he was "filled with power" and was working to restore justice in the land. And to some extent, he did. But not alone.
We travel even further in our Gospel. We hear Jesus’ admonition to listen to the Pharisees, but not to do what they do as they don’t follow their own advice. He calls out for humility, for humanity, for people recognizing the divine in one another and not placing themselves on a higher level than any other human being. He trained disciples in a ministry of loving other human beings.
Our Interim Conference Minister, the Rev. Denise Mason Bullit, reminded those gathered last night at the second planning charrette that as a church, our primary mission is to "make disciples." We agreed with vigorous head-nodding. Micah's prophetic words were there to give hope to those who felt powerless against a ruling totality that was corrupt and unjust. Jesus' work involved sitting down and making sure that each person, whether rich or poor, knew that they mattered to God. They did that by making disciples; that remains the calling of the church today. We are called to make disciples: to create a congregation that knows that it matters to God, and can go into the community reminding the hopeless that each person matters to God.
All of this comes against a backdrop of this past week: a domestic terrorist attack on a church in Texas and a by-election that heralds a triumph of diversity across our nation. The church is a preacher of hope, and a voice and presence for love. We cannot succumb to the reign of fear that dominates our politics. We’re called to listen to our message of hope and inclusion and, against that backdrop of real fear, embody love in our community, as disciples. That's hard work. But I give thanks to God that we're imagining the tools and facilities we need for that -- with no clear idea of precisely where the Spirit will guide us. But amen! It is the Spirit that leads us.