Thursday, December 20, 2012

For Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE READING: Micah 6:6-8

“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?  ill 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?”  He 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?


It’s 740-700 BCE and God’s people are anxious.  The northern part of the kingdom (Israel) has already fallen to the Assyrian army, and its leading families have been deported to Assyria.  The southern part of the kingdom (Judah) is now under threat, and sooner or later also will fall.

The leaders of Judah – king, rich landowners, leading merchants, priests – are doing all they know to survive as a kingdom.  Micah, a prophet, sees they are working on the wrong track though.

Like other people, they pray God will give them a strong king to lead them to victory in battle against their enemies, and last week (in Micah 5:2-5a) we read Micah’s answer to them.  He says a saviour will come – but only after their defeat.  And rather than a warrior who will give them victory over others, the king God will choose for them will be a shepherd who will take the time and care to feed everyone.

In their anxiety like other people they also try to be as religious as they can be.  They fix up the temple and start piling on the sacrifices – a religious revival, to try to get God on their side, and this week we read Micah’s response to their renewed piety and fevered religious activity.

At the heart of Micah’s message is the understanding that God did not bring the people into their land and help them be a kingdom just so they could be like other kingdoms with a warrior-king and God on their side to make them bigger and better.  The purpose was that they learn to be distinctive among nations and a light to other peoples – a people known in the world for the way they live out God’s good will for all, and for showing that it really can be done.

This passage was chosen for worship this week because the choir is offering a carol concert with the theme of what Jesus wants from us for Christmas, and this passage Micah offers one of the “classic” answers to the question of what God wants from us.


What makes us anxious (as persons, as a church, as a nation, as a world community) today?  How are we on the wrong track in how we are trying to survive and make things better?  How are we on the right track?

What do we do at Christmas that’s on Jesus’ or God’s wish list?

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