What Is Required of Us – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Micah 6:6-8

In our first lesson, from the Prophecy of Micah, we hear the prophet answering the question, “What does the Lord require of you?” In the Catechism of The Book of Common Prayer, this question is repeated: What does the Lord require of you?”[i] The answer would appear to come from the Prophecy of Micah; however there is an error. The Book of Common Prayer misquotes Micah. The Catechism’s answer to what is required of us is “to love justice, to do mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God.” That is not Micah, what we have just heard read. Micah does not say “to love justice.” Micah says “to do justice.” To do justice.

It is certainly a good thing to love justice. How important it was on Tuesday when President Biden signed the Proclamation establishing a monument honoring Emmett Till, the Black 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, and honoring his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. We might could say it is a movement in the direction of the justice we love, those of us who do. But we are a conflicted people. We are a nation founded on genocide, built up by slavery, and still captive to rampant racism which is so apparent… except to those for whom it is not. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”; however that requires help, our help.

Going back to the Prophecy of Micah, we hear Micah answering what the Lord requires of us, “to love kindness,” and “to do justice.” We must be about justice-making as followers of Jesus. None of us here has the power of the President to sign a proclamation on behalf of the nation; however all of us have some power within our reach, not just to love justice but to do justice. Edward Everett Hale, a 19th-century historian and a Unitarian minister in Boston, had witnessed the Civil War, what led up to it, and the insidious injustice that followed when “Reconstruction” was destroyed in 1877 and the Jim Crow laws began to reign. To Edward Everett Hale this was evil atop evil and required action not just sentiment. Hale wrote:

I am only one, but still, I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something that I can do.[ii]

It is to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God.

[i] “An outline of Faith, commonly called the Catechism,” in The Book of Common Prayer (1979), p. 847.

[ii]  Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909).

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  1. Margo on August 31, 2023 at 06:24

    I think most of us love this call to courageous living. The problem is justice is not something concrete pulled off a tree. A legal system on which justice would rest, is the product of precedence and a community’s mores. At their best ever evolving to meet the whole community’s needs, In practice a system that supports the strongest, most dominant, with most of us within the system blind to its exclusions and weakness. And if it supports our agenda will enshrine it as God given. The way it is. An excellent example “The American way of life” that has so ruthlessly exploited so much of the rest of the world. Most of us are blissfully unaware of our trade policies. Or look at the demographics of world population and the US immigration laws. What happened to do justice and love kindness? And what is the single thing I could do to effect it?????

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