What does the Lord require of you?

At the beginning of meeting for worship, Gregg Koskela, Senior Pastor of Newberg Friends Church, reminded us that the question in the sixth chapter of Micah, verse six, is “how shall I come before the Lord?” or “what shall I bring when I come before the Lord, when I bow before God on high?”(Micah 6:6 in the Revised English Bible, REB) He asked us to think about how often we ask “what am I going to get out of this worship? Is this worship service going to work for me? Am I going to like it? Will it speak to my condition?” What would it be like if instead we asked, “How am I prepared for worship? In what condition am I bringing myself to worship? What can I bring to the gathered community?” I was strongly reminded of the famous JFK quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country,” but Gregg didn’t say that.

The heart of the sermon was Micah 6:8, the famous quote about what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Which is the prophet Micah’s answer of the proper sacrifices to bring before the Lord. Gregg spoke about how so often we think we can pull these strands apart, but yet God wants us to remember and practice all three together. He spoke about how too often Quakers divide ourselves into those who do justice on this side and those who walk with God over here. He reminded us that we all need to practice lovingkindness if we are to be faithful to God, and how we all need to walk humbly with God and with each other.

By the end of the sermon, it seemed like Gregg was winding up and I felt the Spirit move among us, or at least in me. He invited us to move into open worship and I was mildly irritated that we still had to sing two songs before things quieted down. I had an almost instant leading to read the passage, “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” It seems like an apt description of my spiritual state these days.

It took me a while to find it (Mark 9:24), although I did know enough to dig out my little King James pocket bible, since the words are slightly different in Chris’s Oxford Study Bible (REB). I read the verse over and over a few times. I waited in hopes that it would just go away. I listened further and felt called to read the whole passage (Mark 9:14-30), about how the disciples tried to cast out the demon but only Jesus could – and he said this kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. I stopped to listen to the vocal ministry from two women and waited for a moment of silence to pass after the second woman read from the Psalms.

As I re-read the passage one more time and felt my blood pounding and the buzzing in my whole body that, for me, goes with a true leading to speak in meeting for worship, the singer stood up and asked, “Friends, are all hearts clear?”

I looked up in shock and in that moment I wondered if I should just stand up and read it anyway. I really think I could have. It wasn’t just an empty question.

However, in the same instant I was given to understand that the part of the sermon that was meant for me was about walking humbly with God. That this message that I had been given was indeed a message from God but that God was asking me not to give it. Especially not to stand up and make a dramatic statement and call a lot of attention to myself. Even though I really, really wanted to.

What I resist, God asks me to do. What I want to do, God asks me not to. What good is that?

“The Lord has told you mortals what is good, and what it is that the Lord requires of you: only to act justly, to love loyalty, to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, REB)

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Blogger Liz Opp said...

This sounds like an important reminder about the various forms that discernment of a leading to offer vocal ministry during worship can take:

Is the message for NOW?

Is the message OF GOD?

Is the message ONLY FOR ME?

Liz, The Good Raised Up

7/20/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger GMC said...

Isn't it amasing how little God asks and how hard it is to live faithfully? I seem to get into trouble when I try to get extra credit by going the extra mile (working for brownie points).
The message given to me is obviously ment to be given, surley I'm walking humble with God, not like other people that I won't mention. But if I hold the message and examine it, I find that it's ment for me.
Something that I've noticed is that the older the Quaker the fewer the messages. Why do you suppose that is? Do older Friends need less correcting or are they just better at holding messages and letting them bear fruit. Should seasoned Friends be more forth comming talking about Quaker pratices and workings of the Spirit? (Retorical question- I know the real ansewer is DEPENDS!)


7/20/2006 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to your site to verify my memory of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem, and left with an added peace in my heart and a buzz in my head--am I walking HUMBLY? Who judges that? jgh

8/16/2008 1:37 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Well, I think the right answer about who judges is God, no?

But in the meantime, I think that if we keep asking ourselves the question, "am I walking humbly here/now?" and we take the time to quietly listen for the answer, we will get at least an inkling of God's honest opinion.

8/16/2008 1:44 PM  

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