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Monday, January 30, 2017

MICAH: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." John+

Alternative Facts and Jesus

          .  We are seeing in recent days a struggle over truth:  what is or is not a fact is a matter of interpretation.  Pictures can lie.  Something can be true because you believe it to be true and you have “alternative facts” to back it up.  I suspect this way of looking at reality from your desired perspective is not new.  The struggle for truth has been around for a long time.  We too, have our own alternative facts when it suits us.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah)

The powerful leaders of Israel proclaimed their version of truth boldly, so much so that they found themselves in constant conflict and war with their neighbors.  To gain God’s favor they cranked up the sacrificial system of their day.  They felt good about doing away with human sacrifice, but didn’t acknowledge that the “firstborn” of many families were being sacrificed in war.  They favored the sacrifice of animals and grain in burnt offerings and a haze of smoke lingered over the cities.  The people most out of favor with God were the poor who didn’t have the wherewithal to participate in the sacrifices.  Disfavored, they could be completely forgotten by those who had power and wealth.
Micah, at threat of his own life, loudly proclaimed that a right relationship with God didn’t rely upon this sacrificial system (which only made the rich richer anyway) and would never rid Israel of its problems of war and poverty.  Micah insisted that the only way Israel could do that is by doing justice (mishpat) and practicing loving kindness (chesed).  When the weakest and poorest are forgotten and left behind, the ills of the community continue.  To be on the right side of God requires an attitude of humility, doing justice, and showing mercy and kindness, especially to the poor.
Micah, tried to bring God’s word to Israel, but wasn’t successful.  The exile in Babylon followed, the rich and capable were led off first by their captives, resulting in total loss and great suffering.  But like all the prophets before and after, Micah prepared the soil and planted a seed.  In our own day, Micah is quoted more than ever.
Now it’s important to note that the Exile was not a punishment by God, but a consequence of years of living lies bolstered by “alternative facts” that ignored reality and the cries of the poor.  The Exile was perpetrated by humans over against other humans.  God is not needed to punish anyone (even though we think so), human beings can punish themselves just fine, thank you.
Jesus, sent by the Father, came like a new Moses.  Jesus went up the mountain to teach how to live and value people in a whole new way.  Jesus taught how to live and value people in a way that had never been before.  In the same tradition as Moses and the prophets, Jesus went far beyond them.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught a whole new way of being human and experience unity as a human family, not over against others, excluding them, but respecting their dignity as children of his Father.
As Paul put it, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  Weakness is made strong by forgiveness and love.  It is no surprise that the people most comfortable with Jesus’ message were the prostitutes and tax collectors!  It was precisely the people of no importance who were suited to be signs of God’s new creation, re-creating people from the inside out.  These “sinners” would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven that God wanted to bring about on earth.
Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.
No longer is religion about offering sacrifices to win God’s favor.  Those sacrifices were external and didn’t really change a person’s heart.  Change of heart and thinking (repentance, metanoia) would make heaven on earth possible.  The goal of “getting to heaven” that was the emphasis behind the sacrificial system, was no longer valid.  Now, to please God is to help bring about heaven on earth by living God’s values here and now.  Personal achievement, so valued in our time, is only meaningful when all God’s children participate, and no one is left out.  Alternative Facts and Jesus
          .  We are seeing in recent days a struggle over truth:  what is or is not a fact is a matter of interpretation.  Pictures can lie.  Something can be true because you believe it to be true and you have “alternative facts” to back it up.  I suspect this way of looking at reality from your desired perspective is not new.  The struggle for truth has been around for a long time.  We too, have our own alternative facts when it suits us.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah)

The powerful leaders of Israel proclaimed their version of truth boldly, so much so that they found themselves in constant conflict and war with their neighbors.  To gain God’s favor they cranked up the sacrificial system of their day.  They felt good about doing away with human sacrifice, but didn’t acknowledge that the “firstborn” of many families were being sacrificed in war.  They favored the sacrifice of animals and grain in burnt offerings and a haze of smoke lingered over the cities.  The people most out of favor with God were the poor who didn’t have the wherewithal to participate in the sacrifices.  Disfavored, they could be completely forgotten by those who had power and wealth.
Micah, at threat of his own life, loudly proclaimed that a right relationship with God didn’t rely upon this sacrificial system (which only made the rich richer anyway) and would never rid Israel of its problems of war and poverty.  Micah insisted that the only way Israel could do that is by doing justice (mishpat) and practicing loving kindness (chesed).  When the weakest and poorest are forgotten and left behind, the ills of the community continue.  To be on the right side of God requires an attitude of humility, doing justice, and showing mercy and kindness, especially to the poor.
Micah, tried to bring God’s word to Israel, but wasn’t successful.  The exile in Babylon followed, the rich and capable were led off first by their captives, resulting in total loss and great suffering.  But like all the prophets before and after, Micah prepared the soil and planted a seed.  In our own day, Micah is quoted more than ever.
Now it’s important to note that the Exile was not a punishment by God, but a consequence of years of living lies bolstered by “alternative facts” that ignored reality and the cries of the poor.  The Exile was perpetrated by humans over against other humans.  God is not needed to punish anyone (even though we think so), human beings can punish themselves just fine, thank you.
Jesus, sent by the Father, came like a new Moses.  Jesus went up the mountain to teach how to live and value people in a whole new way.  Jesus taught how to live and value people in a way that had never been before.  In the same tradition as Moses and the prophets, Jesus went far beyond them.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught a whole new way of being human and experience unity as a human family, not over against others, excluding them, but respecting their dignity as children of his Father.
As Paul put it, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  Weakness is made strong by forgiveness and love.  It is no surprise that the people most comfortable with Jesus’ message were the prostitutes and tax collectors!  It was precisely the people of no importance who were suited to be signs of God’s new creation, re-creating people from the inside out.  These “sinners” would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven that God wanted to bring about on earth.
Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.
No longer is religion about offering sacrifices to win God’s favor.  Those sacrifices were external and didn’t really change a person’s heart.  Change of heart and thinking (repentance, metanoia) would make heaven on earth possible.  The goal of “getting to heaven” that was the emphasis behind the sacrificial system, was no longer valid.  Now, to please God is to help bring about heaven on earth by living God’s values here and now.  Personal achievement, so valued in our time, is only meaningful when all God’s children participate, and no one is left out.  That is the meaning of the Beatitudes: the truly blessed ones are those not with power or resources, but the people most feared or despised by them.
Today we celebrate the one Sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  We have to be careful that we don’t foster the continuance of the sacrificial system.  The Lord’s Supper is open to all, offered for all people (themany), and will forgive the sins of all.  The Body and Blood we receive is a means of letting God change us, committing ourselves to doing justice and living in loving kindness toward all, trying to do God’s will, never giving up, until God’s kingdom come.  Amen!
Today we celebrate the one Sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  We have to be careful that we don’t foster the continuance of the sacrificial system.  The Lord’s Supper is open to all, offered for all people (themany), and will forgive the sins of all.  The Body and Blood we receive is a means of letting God change us, committing ourselves to doing justice and living in loving kindness toward all, trying to do God’s will, never giving up, until God’s kingdom come.  
Amen! 
John+
St. Alban

Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.

The Reverend John Smith, Vicar

5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE

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