by Carter Vest
April 5, 2014
Micah 6: 6-8, NRSV
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?”
I must admit that I’ve not readily embraced the Lenten call this year. Done in by the extra practice demands to prepare the cantata during the busy Advent season, I’m still taking time off from choir. With packs of college students descending on our home over Spring Break, I’ve had a hard time making it to Sunday School. Many times I don’t really want to drive past our lifeless church property to attend church functions for “Oconee Street at Tuckston.” And this focus on holy habits brings to mind my abysmal record with New Year’s resolutions: the only one I ever kept was the resolution to stop making them!
I know that scripture and prayer, fasting and generosity strengthen our connection to God’s grace; that singing and study, worship and fellowship together enrich our common connection to the living waters. Yet it seems my desire to walk humbly with our God too often resembles the heels-dug-in-not-going-anywhere resistance of a willful two year old. I’m not sure quite how I’ve managed to avoid the spiritual equivalent of nursemaid’s elbow.
So how does one actually do justice in this world amid the complex of conspirators working against it? I suspect that most of us are far from the mark. It’s not by putting together a fabulous fundraiser or building a beautiful church or attending a thousand well intentioned meetings. The answer must start with the capacity to critically observe God’s creation and intently listen to people’s voices to be able to name injustice first, and then muster a willingness to act, in many cases without regard for self interest. Like Jesus I guess.
Thankfully, God does not always demand grand sweeping gestures, or that we appear every single time the church door opens. If we’re vigilant we might find opportunities to further the kingdom in big ways, but most of us will do well to advance the cause of kindness in measured steps as our vision permits.
I do know that presence with sacred gatherings of congregants, Oconee Street’s or otherwise, can afford glimpses of everlasting peace. So can quiet sitting with my buddy before dawn to read aloud the rich devotionals shared by so many of you. God moments do occasionally break out in committee meetings, even after interminable wheel spinning! As a health care provider, I sometimes find that listening beyond the physical discomforts that bring people into my office allows a deep connection that can start to change a heart.
Prayer: Thank you God, for inviting us to walk with you. Help us to uncover the pathways that extend your love. Thank you for grace when we inevitably fall short, and for fellow sojourners with whom to travel. Amen