Wednesday, August 1, 2018

One Last Time

In my daily readings, I moved from Song of Songs to Micah.  Micah acted as a bridge book; I needed something with seven chapters so I could start Proverbs on August 1.  With thirty-one chapters in Proverbs, I thought it would be a great way to finish the lyrical/instructional books of the Bible.  And once I finish Proverbs, I do plan to go to the minor prophets.

So, again, Micah.

In my readings, I recently came across two of my favorite passages in the Bible.

"Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty as spoken."
Micah 4:4

"He has shown you, O mortal what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

In reverse order, Micah 6:8 has long been a favorite.  It is a call of all that the Lord is asking of Israel.  In the preceding verses, Micah has been outlining God's case against Israel and their transgressions.  Showing the actions that the Lord has taken in protecting and caring for his people.  And he then hits this final summation.  A synthesis of what the law and the prophets have been trying to get Israel to understand, and by extension what God has been asking of His followers ever since.  Three simple responses.

To live justly - to do right, to be obedient.  An internal marker and measurement.  Note the call is not to see how "just" others are being, but to live justly ourselves.

To love mercy - to seek mercy and to be merciful.  This statement amazes me because it is not to love justice, but to love mercy. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."  To Israel, this is a radical statement, for many would still believe and be governed by an "eye for an eye."  It is still radical in our culture today, as far too many of many of us seek justice, but neglect mercy.

To walk humbly with your God - or to walk prudently with your God. A reminder for humility, which is always needed.  And a reminder to stay with God.  Not to wander off, as we all are prone to do.

We over-complicate much of our lives, and still do so with these three callings.   This is still the calling.  Jesus told us to "love God" - to live justly and to walk humbly with your God, and to "love others" - to love mercy.

I came to an appreciation of Micah 4:4 through an unusual pathway - Hamilton

Like the scripture says: 
'Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree 
And no one shall make them afraid.'
They'll be safe in the nation we've made
I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we've made
One last time

This verse was apparently a personal verse to George Washington.  It projected a version of America that Washington believed in.  "Lin and Tommy liked the personal nature of the Biblical verse: Washington wanted badly to return to Mt. Vernon, to depart what he called 'the great theater of action.' But those lines from Scripture had a public meaning for him, too. In 1790, he cited the verse in a letter to a Jewish community that had immigrated to Rhode Island to seek relief from persecution. He was stating the principle that all men and women should find a safe haven in America, no matter who they are or where they come from." - Hamilton The Revolution, 207-208.  The verse then became incorporated in the song One Last Time, a song about Washington's Farewell Address and his departure from office.  In case you are wondering, this would be waterworks moment number one in the second act of Hamilton.  There are at least two more.  (Depending on your politics, if you really want to cry, look up the performance of One Last Time at the Obama White House).

It also projects a version of America I still believe in.  And a personal calling to fulfill Micah 6:8.  We get to Micah 4:4 with everyone under their own vine and fig tree, unafraid, when the Church lives up to living justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

Something to strive for again, and again.

"Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.  I shall also carry with the the hope that my country will view them with indulgence; and that after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an uprights zeal the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as I myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.  I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers."

One last time.

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