This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 29th, 2017.
One oft-repeated benefit of the lectionary is that it forces passages on us that we would not ordinarily preach. However, one fallback to this format is that it can often give passages that end up being proof-texts or at the very least commonly repeated texts abstracted from their larger context and place within the Biblical narrative. Micah 6 is one such text. More specifically, though, it is Micah 6:8 that receives the spotlight – it is well rehearsed in many a Bible drill class. That being said, the text continues to speak a particular truth that is made more evident within its wider context and within the whole of Scripture.
The difficulty with this text, though, is to not allow our own vision of justice, loving-kindness, and humility override what Micah is describing. What one commentator describes as the “Golden Text” of the Old Testament begins, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good…” (Micah 6:8a). That Micah presumes the people know what is good because God has (presumably) told them indicates that it is not just any account of justice, loving-kindness, and humility that matters. One easy way to ground this and root it in the tangible, visceral world in which we live is to look at the Gospel text for this week, Matthew 5:1-12. The beginning of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is yet another familiar text but seen through the lens of Micah’s call to remember what God has told them reveals that this command is not only for Micah’s audience but for us as well.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 20th, 2016.
Jeremiah is concerned with speaking truth, and truth can sometimes be painful. Jeremiah’s opening line of this passage is, “Woe to the shepherds.” The leaders of people of God, here probably referencing the kings of Judah, have failed the people. They have misled them and scattered the flock. A shepherd’s main task is guiding his or her flock, but this group has failed. Any amount of time spent in the church will bring about an example of a shepherd not tending to the flock. We can all think of the prime examples that come to mind. The scandals and swift downfalls are easy to notice. But, we might also do well to remember the small things that can lead a flock astray. Perhaps it is the simple temptation of a little more power. Perhaps, it is the allure of wealth and relevance. These small things can cause a shepherd to mislead his or her flock. As one preaching, Jeremiah’s hard truth probably calls for self-examination as much as indignation.
“I will attend to you.” These words from the Lord are of judgment, but they are also words motivated by care for His flock. The Lord has had enough and plans to take matters into His own hands. First, God will deal with those who have failed at their task. The judgment of God does not come from an arbitrary place. No, God steps into right a wrong to bring justice.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 16th, 2016.
As a modern day reader, and considering our familiarity with the Bible and the general structure of parables, our first inclination might be to think that the author is describing how the judge and the Lord in this parable are similar. In fact, this parable sets up a contrast between how the Lord administers justice to those in need and the judge who administers justice after being inconvenienced by constant pleas from the widow. While the judge gives justice because of badgering, the Lord gives justice to someone who “always prays and [does] not lose heart.”
This parable is focused on prayer and plays on the contrast in status between a judge and a widow. In those times, the role of a judge was to maintain peaceful community and resolve disputes among the Israelites. Women, on the other hand, relied on the support given by their husband. When their husband was not in the picture anymore, they did not inherit property from their husband; instead, it was passed on to either the husband’s male offspring or his brothers. In some cases, these widows were taken in by the other family members of her late-husband or left to fend for themselves. Since there was no jury to hear the case of the widow, the judge carried the sole responsibility of dealing with her complaint in a fair and impartial manner – as according to the law set out in Deuteronomy. Additionally, they were required to show the same amount of respect to the small cases as the large.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on December 20, 2015.
My wife is a classically trained musician and has been playing piano since she was 4 years old. I, on the other hand, had about a year of piano when I was a child, and the only instrument I am capable of operating is a sound board – a place where I have a lot of experience.
Nevertheless I have long had an intense appreciation and enjoyment of good music, and I have come to appreciate using music to help put me in the right place for worship (All Sons and Daughters has become a Sunday morning routine before church), but also in the preparation of writing.