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A Dramatic Presentation of Micah 6:1-8
February 2, 2014
Introduction (San from pulpit)
When I saw that Micah 6 was the lectionary reading from the Old Testament, I immediately decided that it would be our Word for the Day. Micah 6:8 has been called the “Golden Text of the Old Testament.” Here at UPC, Micah 6 verse 8 is practically a mantra, a motto that penetrates to the heart of our relationship with God and others. This famous verse hangs on a banner in our Great Hall, and it is frequently used at the conclusion of our worship as the Charge and Benediction. Truly, verse 8 of Micah 6 is well known and much loved.
But less familiar is the larger context in which the prophet Micah speaks these words. The context is that of a legal proceeding. Yahweh, God, has filed a lawsuit. By employing a legal proceeding as a poetic device, the prophet invites us into a dramatic courtroom scene. Come, then, let us join the proceedings, and hear what the Lord says: (San walks down to stand on the pulpit side of the bema)
Presider (Kathy from pulpit)
Gavels the court to order
This court is called to order. A lawsuit has been filed, and is now to be adjudicated. Yahweh (Krystal standing on the lectern side of the bema raises her hand to identify that she is Yahweh), the Creator of all things and giver of all life, has brought an accusation against God’s covenant partner, Israel (San standing on the other side of the bema sheepishly raises his hand to identify that he is Israel).
You, the congregation, are hereby summoned to hear this case. Not only you, but also the natural world is summoned to witness the charges which the Lord our God will make against his people. Let the mountains and hills, the waterways and valleys be brought in to hear what the Creator will say. For is it not true that all creation suffers when God’s human creatures ignore and violate the laws that God has set forth?
What, then, is the controversy which the Lord has with his people? I call upon God to make his complaint known.
God (Krystal from lectern side of bema)
My prophet Micah has already made a good accounting of my controversy with my people. You deprive the poor of livelihood by seizing their fields and repossessing their houses (2:2). You oppress workers and rob people of their inheritance. You hate the good and love the evil. You skin and butcher people as if they were animals and not human beings (3:2-3). You fill yourselves with food and riches and declare war on those who have nothing to put in their mouths (3:5). Your rulers are corrupt and your so-called religious leaders teach for a price, and give oracles for money (3:11). In a word, you love money and abuse people. You fill yourselves with riches, but you are empty of justice and compassion. Need I go on?
The truth of what you say cannot be denied. But are you without blame? Have you no responsibility for the failings of your people? Take the stand and speak:
O my people, my human creatures that I made from the earth, into whom I breathed the breath of life. O my beloved, made in my image to share in my love, what have I done to you? I am like a betrayed lover, or like a wounded parent. When you were in slavery I brought you out of bondage. I raised up leaders from among you–Moses, Aaron and Miriam. I delivered you from the Moabite King and led you into the land I promised your ancestors. My saving grace was always with you. Why, then, do you ignore my commandments? What have I done? Answer me, O my people!
Israel (San from pulpit side of bema)
I confess, I cannot deny, that what you say is true. Your charges against your people are justified. But I can make restitution. I want to set things right between us, and once again bow before you as your faithful people. What kind of settlement will you accept? Shall I increase my pledge? If it pleases you, I’ll even double my pledge as a sincere offering of my devotion to you. But if that is not enough, I’ll even make a tithe, an offering of 10%. Would not such a generous offering balance the scales? Surely you are pleased with my piety and offerings. You are pleased—aren’t you?
O mortal, why do you “think that God can be pacified by outward rites and frivolous performances.” (Calvin). God has told you what is good. Hear again what the Lord requires of you. (Kathy, Krystal and San walk to front of bema)
Krystal: To do justice.
San: To love Kindness.
Kathy: and to walk humbly with your God.
Krystal; “Come! Live in the Light!”
San: “Come! Open your heart!
Kathy: “Sing! Sing a new song!
(Congregation stands to sing, “Come! Live in the Light!)