Blogging Toward Sunday, April 29th
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sermon: Rev. Jim Berlau
Awakening Our Wonder: 
"Adding Kindness, Subtracting Excuses"

Scripture: Micah 6:1-8
Awakening our wonder. Who wouldn't want to spend more time intentionally seeking encounters with God through the ordinary moments of our lives? Yet, for so many of us, we find that for some reason, taking the time to develop our spiritual disciplines within our daily rhythms can prove to be pretty challenging. So we've looked at opportunities for extraordinary encounters with God through ordinary aspects of life such as time, music, and laughter. This Sunday, we'll consider those moments when we choose to do something kind for someone else. They may seem small, they might feel insignificant, but the impact can be broad reaching and life changing.
This classic passage from the prophet Micah will be our foundational text for the morning. Most of us are familiar with verse 8, but how often do we read those words in light of all that has come before? God seems pretty upset at the beginning of the chapter, and Israel immediately counters with a response of worship and sacrifice in order to make amends. But then there is this word that stood out to me in the beginning of verse 8, especially given the tone of the previous seven verses. The word is 'require.'
With all of the legal imagery used in the earlier part of chapter six, I immediately read this with the tone of a judge bringing down a sentence on a convicted and guilty party. It feels cold, uninspiring, and more like a punishment. However, to act justly, to love kindness, to walk humbly with God are hardly punishments, right?
The Hebrew word for require is 'darash.' The tone of this word has a sense of dependency attached to it. Now one might see that as a negative, but it is actually rooted in this idea of affection, sort of like what is seen in statements such as, "a child requires their mother's love," or "the flower requires sunshine and water." Darash has an element of seeking within it, as in when the shepherd is seeking his lost sheep, or two people who love one another are seeking one another after having been apart. Therefore, the mood this word elicits isn't one of judgment or guilt; instead it perfectly captures the character of who God is, and the tone of the Lord's desire for God's people.
When the Lord "requires" justice, kindness and humility, it isn't that the Lord insists on or demands these things. Instead we become partners with God in bringing about justice, compassion, and an 'others first' mentality because God needs them from us. This is part of our holy and sacred relationship with God and with others, lived out to the fullest in the more mundane and ordinary moments of each day.
We can't ignore these opportunities for justice. We can't give excuses for why we aren't kind to others around us. We shouldn't choose humility based on convenience. According to a third century rabbi, Moses gave 365 prohibitions and 248 commands. David reduced them to eleven in Psalm 15. Isaiah made them six (Isaiah 33:14,15). These words from Micah streamline them to three...three actions that if taken on a routine basis, connect us with God in profound and meaningful ways that not only transform the lives of others, but also bring new life to us.
This Sunday, let's dive deeper into how we can weave acts of justice, loving kindness, and humility into our daily routine. We'll look to minimize our excuses and begin to choose to live this way. Not because we are made to, but because our relationship with God 'requires' it.
See you on Sunday,
Pastor Jim