Beyond our Wildest Dreams


            So, we’re halfway through our summer series Holy Discomfort, our journey through the minor prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures and we’ve learned there are some doozies. As my mother loves to remind me, “Nobody liked the prophets!” I think we can understand why. The prophets were all called by God to speak on God’s behalf and, for the most part, the messages from God were not a welcome ones. The prophets called people out for all manner of things: greed, hypocrisy, selfishness, exploitation of others, breaking covenant, misbehaving, taking advantage of the powerless, and on and on. Sometimes these accusations were paired with warning, sometimes these accusations were paired with warning and hope, always these accusations came from a God who was upset, angry, tired, and ready for folks to remember to act right, to remember who they were, and to whom they belonged. So these messengers, these prophets, were tasked with conveying God’s message to the people no matter how unpopular that message may be. I think it’s safe to assume nobody wanted to sit at their table in the lunchroom.

            If you’re unfamiliar with the minor prophets or you’re hearing some of their names for the first time in this series, I’m guessing you’re not alone. I’ve had to brush up as we’ve embarked on this journey of holy discomfort. If you’re looking for a good primer on these texts, I can point you to which has short video overviews of not only the minor prophets but every book of the Bible. It’s not easy to dive into these particular scriptures, they’re unfamiliar and the messages do and should make us uncomfortable. I believe, though, that the Spirit of God is at work in these texts and in our lives. God’s word to us, the Bible: the Hebrew Scriptures and the new Testament are not static, they are living and breathing and it is necessary for us to approach them with prayer and discernment both as individuals and as a community, asking God to speak through them here and now.

            Micah is one of the prophets that we may have actually heard of before this morning. It’s one of the minor prophets that actually makes it into the lectionary, the three year cycle of scripture that many churches use. Micah 6:8 is a favorite scripture verse for many. I’ve even heard it quoted in popular TV shows. Since those words tend to be familiar to us, I’m going to read a couple of other passages from the prophet Micah. Listen now for the word of the Lord:

{read Micah 3:5-1; 4:1-5}

            As with all of the prophets, Micah had a message from God for the people. God was displeased with the people and felt they’d broken their covenant with God. To put it plainly, the Israelites were NOT following the guidance of Micah 6:8 “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?” Justice was not being done. Kindness was not loved. And no one was walking humbly with God. In fact, the powerful, including the religious folks were exploiting the poor, the disenfranchised, the helpless, the hopeless. Greed ruled the day and for the right price the priests, the leaders, the self-claimed prophets would declare the Lord’s favor on anyone willing to pay for it. Those with full bellies did nothing to make sure others were fed. The lowly were pushed even lower. The poor knocked further into poverty. Everyone out for their own good above the good of all else. “If it’s what’s best for me and mine, that’s what I’m doing.” Because of rampant injustice, broken covenant, exploitation, and total lack of consideration for anyone other than the privileged and the wealthy and powerful, the word that Micah brought to the people was a promise of destruction. Because of your deeds, the prophet says, “Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become piles of rubble, and the temple mount will become an overgrown mound.” A vivid image of the best and most loved things and places being utterly destroyed. All that you hold dear, all that you cling so tightly to will be wiped out, this was the word of the Lord.

            An interesting thing about the prophet Micah which perhaps make this book a bit easier to read than others is that each warning is coupled with a vision of hope, a vision of restoration and redemption. Yes, things will be destroyed and what seems most important will be taken away but God, in God’s mercy, because of who God is will redeem and restore. There’s a great deal of hope in Micah. There’s a great deal of good news. There’s a great deal about who God is in contrast to who we are. We are the covenant breakers. God is the covenant keeper. We are the faithless. God is faithful. We are the ones concerned only with ourselves and the good of our tribe or our circle or our family or our nation. God is the one who draws the circle ever wider, who invites in all whom the world would reject, demean, dehumanize. We are the ones with very little imagination when it comes to love and justice, kindness and inclusion. God is the one with the big imagination who always dreams of more. 

            God’s dream is about enlarging space. God’s dream is a vision of restoration, of assembling, gathering, and uniting those who have been separated…from God, from community, from others. We human beings are good at casting others out. We are good at drawing lines in the sand and throwing up boundaries. We’re good at devising tests of fellowship and ways to determine who belongs and who does not. I think if we had our druthers, we’d keep our circle small, our table manageable, our space exactly as we want it to be and no bigger. We get stuck in our ways, in our comfortable routines, we don’t like change, and we don’t want to go out of our way to accommodate more than what we know. Don’t shake my foundations, preacher. Don’t challenge me, Holy Spirit. Don’t ask more of me, O God.

            Here’s what I wonder: who among us hasn’t been blindsided by life? Who among us has not had their world shaken by something completely out of their control? Anybody? If you haven’t had a shipwreck yet in your life, it’ll come. What you think you know will be tested. What you believe to be true will be questioned. Your assumptions and your deeply held convictions will be shaken. I suspect the last year contained a lot of that…questioning, testing, shaking, uncertainty. Collectively we’ve been through trauma and we may feel like we’re coming out of it but I think we have much more to learn and grapple with as we begin to emerge from this time of unsteadiness and discomfort.

            When we are faced with uncertainty, it’s easy to turn inward. It’s easy to stay in place. It’s easy to close ranks. It’s easy to go with what we think we know. The thing that I love about Micah 6:8 is the part about walking humbly. Walking implies forward motion. Walking with God reminds me that we’re not alone. And humility, well, my favorite way to think about humility is that humility allows for the possibility that I don’t know everything, that I might be wrong, that there is more to learn and more than I can know. Humility reminds me that I’m not the center of the universe. Humility reminds me that God’s world is bigger than my world. Humility reminds me that everyone I meet has their own story, their own battles, their own questions, their own struggle, their own need for belonging and love. To walk humbly with God is to move forward in faith knowing that God is God and I am not. Knowing that God is with me and with you and with this world. That frees me to live the way that the God of covenant promise has called me to live.

            It’s my call to do justice…to seek it, to work for it, to fight for it, and that means to draw the circle wider, to make sure all are included, to make space in places where it feels like there is none. To listen to stories that make me uncomfortable. To believe those who tell me they’ve been dehumanized and cast aside. To stand with and for those who have been othered. To advocate when called upon and to take a back seat and allow those who have been silenced to have their turn to speak. It’s my call to love kindness…to embrace it, to live it, to offer it, not just to those I think deserve it but to those I can’t see myself being kind to, to those who disagree with me, to those who believe differently than I do, to those who live differently than I do, to those who have hurt me. To be curious and not judgmental. To remember that everyone is facing something I can’t imagine. Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle, I read that somewhere this week and it may need to go on a post-it note where I can see it regularly. Walking humbly with God, doing justice, loving kindness: this is how we make space. This is how we enlarge our hearts and our minds, our homes, our communities, and our churches. We don’t draw lines to determine who is welcome or who can belong or who can partake in God’s expansive dreams. Those things are not up to us and it’s the height of arrogance to think we know better than God.

            This vision in Micah 4: it’s about enlarging the space in our hearts and our minds, our homes, our communities, our churches. God imagines a day when all will come together not in a building but on a mountain because the spaces we occupy will not be large enough and the familiar ways won’t cut it anymore. A day when lines will no longer be drawn and wars will no longer be fought and the categories and boundaries we draw around one another will melt away.  What if our swords are our harsh words? What if our spears are the judgmental attitudes we carry? Our words and our attitudes and our judgments can cut and hurt and kill. What if we stopped hurting and began healing? What if we cultivated kindness and love and justice? What if we assumed the best instead of the worst about ourselves? About others? Would we then be participating in God’s dream? In God’s vision? I think we would.

            Micah is sure to remind the readers and hearers of this prophetic text that restoration and redemption happen because of who God is. We are participants, we are disciples, we are ambassadors, we are image-bearers, we are sowers of love, kindness, mercy, and grace but we are not God. It is God’s compassion, God’s goodness, God’s steadfast love that brings about healing, wholeness, justice, and restoration. It is God who enables us to make space in our hearts, our minds, our lives, our homes, our communities, our churches. It is God who changes us, who transforms us, who dreams bigger than we do. What would it be like for us to join in that dream? What would it be like to align our vision with God’s? I think it’s beyond our wildest dreams.


Rev. Alex Rodgers
Assoc. Pastor for Faith Formation and Congregational Care