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Do Justice

Preacher: 
Rev. Nancy S. Taylor
Date: 
Sep 11 2016
Scripture: 

Transcript

I want you to leave church today, to leave God’s house today, having memorized one sacred verse from our ancient, sacred texts … a single verse from the prophet Micah. Hailing from the 8th century Before the Common Era, Micah was a commoner. He lived out in the countryside.

Micah sums up our job, our occupation, our employment as God’s people with a single verse: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

That’s it. That’s all you need to know. There is no creed to which you must vow your life. No particular ritual that needs to be rehearsed in a certain way.

The life of faith isn’t about crossing off boxes: Went to church √ Confessed my sins √ Tithed my money √ Recited the creeds √ Believed six unbelievable things √ Said my prayers √ Took communion √ Baptized my child √ Knelt and genuflected √

No! shouts Micah. No! If that’s what you think faithful living is, you’re sorely mistaken. What’s more: If that’s what you think faithful living is you don’t know God. You haven’t met God.

A life lived with God, says Micah, is so much higher and deeper and richer and harder and more glorious and more gritty that any of that …

It is simply this: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

This single verse of scripture, Micah 6:8, summarizes the entire Judeo-Christian ethic. Here it is boiled down to its essence.

Here’s the thing: Old South Church in Boston is soon to celebrate a birthday. We are coming up to our 350th year. We are older than our nation.

As we approach our 350th birthday our church has chosen to celebrate that birthday, to mark it by placing Micah 6:8 at the heart and center of our lives.

We have decided to give God a present on our birthday; decided we want nothing more than to gladden the heart of God by endowing justice and kindness and humble walking with God.

This decision was not made lightly or easily. We bathed our discernment in prayer. It was a long time in coming. For two years we worked on this. Two years-worth of meetings and retreats, of small groups and large gatherings … of proposing this and being sent back to the drawing board for that … of tweaking and editing and polishing.

In the end, we agreed together that placing Micah 6:8 at the very center of our lives would gladden God’s heart.

Here’s the plan: to endow justice and mercy in perpetuity, so there will always, forever and ever be the funds to fuel ministries of justice and mercy and humble walking with God.

Justice, not as in courts and law, but justice as Micah understood and meant it: justice measured by how well the most vulnerable fare.

Justice not confined to courts and laws, not located solely in the hands of attorneys and judges. Rather, it is the kind of justice that carries each of us beyond the confines of personal piety and places us, inescapably, in relationship with each other and with the creation.

The kind of justice that this church embraced in the wake of 9/11: refusing to meet hatred with hatred, or violence with violence. Instead, meeting hatred with forbearance and with love; meeting violence with a different kind of strength. While the terrorists tried to separate us—pitting Christian against Muslim and East against West—we refused to take the bait. Instead, we are building bridges and crossing them.

I call your attention to OUR FAITH. OUR TIME. OUR FUTURE. The Campaign for Old South Church.

Funded at $1.8 million, The Micah Mission Fund generates $75,000 annually for justice, only justice.

Funded at $1.8 million Open Door Productions generates $75,000 annually for kindness and mercy.

Funded at $500,000, The Teaching Church generates $20,000 for Christian formation (not because we value it less, but because we have increased staffing and dollars in this area in recent years).

We also plan upgrades to improve handicap accessibility.

We want you to read this case for the Campaign for the Future. It is only eight pages long, with a lot of white space and pictures.

We worked hard on it. Every single member of this church had opportunity to shape this. This is ours.

Take time to read it. All of it, including the sections called “How it Works” and “Use of Funds”.

Our goal is to raise a little over $5 million over five years as a birthday gift to God. We have already reached just over $3 million. We have reached 60% of the goal.

We ask you to pray over it. Jot down any questions you have. The names of all the members of the Steering Committee are on the back. Ask your questions. Come to one of the many events we are hosting this fall to present this.

We see it as a sweet offering to God an offering from our lives to God’s life. It is the kind of offering the prophet Micah might sing about.

The life of faith—this living with God, walking with God—it’s not that complicated.

At the end of the day all that God asks of us is this: Do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

That’s it. That’s all you need to know.