Today’s reading comes from the Book of Micah. For quite a number of us Micah is one of those unknown prophets who happens to have some words that are relatively well known.
Micah is a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Hosea but was from a small town south of Judea (it is believed) and so not quite in Isaiah’s league. He predicted the fall of Samaria in 722-721 BCE and his messages reflect social conditions prior to some of the religious reforms of King Hezekiah. The Book of Micah is relatively short, having only 7 chapters with his best-known words coming in chapter 6.
What does God require of us is the question raised by Micah. Is it sacrifice, burnt offerings, streams of olive oil or first-born children? No what God requires of us is to do what is just, to show constant love or to love mercy, and to live in humble fellowship or to walk humbly with our God. These are the well-known words of Micah, or at least those we know today.
These are the words that should help us as we journey through life trying to be the best that we were created to be. God doesn’t want big powerful rulers who ignore justice for their own ends, God doesn’t want people without love for the other or the ability to show and give mercy, and God wants to share in our daily walk through life, living with us and sharing that experience.
Micah’s words are set in the time of war, exile and defeat of the kings of Israel by the surrounding nations. Prophets such as Isaiah, Hosea and Micah were sent to bring back the people of God to focus on what is meant by being the people of God.
As we stop today and remember the ending of the 1stWorld War, the war that was supposed to end all wars, I think I would be safe in saying that we all long for a vison of real and lasting peace. However, the reality that remains is marked by conflict and cruelty. And yet there has to be hope.
There is a story that comes from the battle fields of WW1. A Christmas night when the sounds of war were silenced briefly and replaced by the strains of carols being sung from both sides of the trenches. The famous Christmas truce, complete with football match, gifts exchanged and peace shared. A hopeful glimpse of what might be. These words from Micah are a call to reconciliation, and the only true vision – justice, kindness and humility as the never eroded standing stones of peace.
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