Sunday, February 3, 2013

Let Justice Roll Down

Good morning! I’m grateful you’re here. We’re going to continue talking about risk. Today we are going to look at compassion, mercy and justice.

Next week: Covenant Women’s Sunday with special speaker Lora Kesselhorn. An old fashioned all-church potluck dinner will follow the service. Bring your favorite dish.

Ash Wednesday service will be February 13. We’ll share a soup supper at 6:15 p.m. with the service beginning at 7:00.

Brochures for Covenant Park Bible Camp 2013 are now available. See Cheryl Borndal for more information.

Today is Boy Scout Sunday and we had a pair of scouts hand out bulletins and take the offering today.

After announcements, a children’s percussion choir sang “He’s Still Working On Me.” Everyone smiled as we were invited to join in on the chorus. Fun, and a message, too.

Drake and Megan, who are now becoming a part of our faith community, sang a song for us and led us in a time of worship that felt like a gentle soothing spirit-wind today.The two were married three weeks ago and look forward to being part of our congregation.

Steve Borndal shared from his heart about what God has done, is doing and will be doing in his future. He recalled for us various points at which he gave his heart to Christ while a youth. Today he is in school and preparing for law enforcement. Learning how to balance work, school and relationships is part of his life. Looking forward to graduating in December this year and asked for prayer about where to pursue his career.

We then entered into a time of prayer, lifting up a variety of needs for members of the church family and their friends.

Let Justice Roll Down

The idea of compassion, mercy and justice lies at the heart of the message of the prophets. What word do you think of when you think of the prophets?

Brad said that he thinks of the word “cranky.” He then read a variety of passages that illustrate his point. By way of contrast, we ourselves like happy books in the same way we like comfort food. But there’s a reason 17 books of the Bible have been written by the prophets.

To illustrate the root of the prophets’ crankiness, he pointed out how a person with perfect pitch is more sensitive to off-key singing. So it is that the prophets are more sensitive to the world’s injustices and those who suffer because of it.

We don't really enjoy being uncomfortable and like the people of his own day the prophet Micah was aware of this in the people he served, hence he wrote... If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ that would be just the prophet for this people!

We prefer being comfortable. It’s like broken things around the house that we get used to and don’t notice any more… we fail to hear the cries of those who are wounded.

Old Testament scholar Abraham Heschel shared this observation, “The shallowness of our moral comprehension, the incapacity to sense the depth of misery caused by our own failures is a simple fact of fallen humanity, which no explanation can justify or hide, because events that horrified and appalled the prophets are everyday occurrences on our world, all around us and we don’t want to know and we don’t want to hear and we don’t want to see it."

How will this ever change? It starts when we take to heart the central passage from today's message, Micah 6:6-8.

“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 olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." ~Micah 6:6-8

From the very beginning God has been very clear about this. We all know what it is like when we are personally treated unfairly. Micah is saying that we should be aware of how others feel from being victims of injustice. Do justice for others. Pay attention to injustice. And stand up for people who are being treated unfairly.

And then, to love kindness, the kind of steadfast love expressed in the Covenant.

God is calling us to love kindness, and to walk humbly before our God.

Brad then circled round to speak out in defense of the prophets' apparent crankiness. What burns most heatedly in a prophet is not anger but love, God's love for those who are hurting. 

C S Lewis once wrote, "Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when it gets cut." And God's anger is fierce when He sees injustice and greed and oppression, because God's love is fiercer still. A true prophet remembers that she or he, too, is one of the sinful people who helped mess up this world, and so the walk humbly.

Can you imagine what would happen if we made this the focus of our lives, to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before our God?

When that happens—when people do justice and love kindness and walk humbly before the Lord our God—Micah says, in the magnificent last chapter, in the closing words to this book,

Nations will see and be ashamed,
deprived of all their power.
They will put their hands over their mouths
and their ears will become deaf.
17 They will lick dust like a snake,
like creatures that crawl on the ground.
They will come trembling out of their dens;
they will turn in fear to the Lord our God
and will be afraid of you.
18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

At the end of the sermon we shared the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

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