An archetypal young couple, new to faith, enrolled in the membership class. They spent the weeks of discernment frequenting every gathering on the church calendar, offering every gift.
“We are what we do with our feet” – Sermon by Brian Combs 2/5/14
They showed up at the nursery, “diapers for all the children.” At the prayer breakfast, “biscuits and bacon for all the early risers.” At the New Testament study, “leather bound Bibles for all the participants.” At the building committee, “blank check to fix all the leaky leaks.”
After class had concluded, before neighbor and God, the young couple stood very still on the chancel, reciting their vows of membership in worship. And then they were never seen or heard from again.
Weeks and months went by until the pastor called to inquire, “we’ve missed you, been concerned.” They responded, “We’re fine, now. Before joining, we had perpetrated grave mistakes, choices beyond regret, and we wanted to absolve our guilt. So we figured that church was the place to pay one time membership dues to get right with God.”
Micah 6:1-8- Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.” “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 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?
Congregational Reflection: What does the Lord require?
The humility that assumes we can’t be faithful alone, that we are a people of need.
That justice always includes the solidarity of sharing, both blessing and curse.
God is broken hearted when we offer our stuff instead of our lives.
A love that is two directional.
Wasn’t just that Adam and Eve hid behind the fig leaf of shame, but that they refused to join God on an evening stroll in the Garden. Wasn’t just that Peter lacked the faith to get beyond the boat, but that he wouldn’t follow Jesus into the sea.
What does the Lord require? Nothing. No burnt offerings, no rams or rivers of oil, no first-born children, no blank checks. God requires no-thing. God isn’t interested in commodities- contracts that are bought and sold, traded and bartered- but ever lasting covenants.
Instead, as Buechner says, “When you wake up in the morning, called by God, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet, because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”
Pedestrians, we are a people who don’t just believe but step to the truth that justice and love are God’s will in motion, one foot in front of the next.
When Sikhs enter the temple for worship, they lean down over the threshold and wipe the dust of floor onto their foreheads believing that nothing is more sacred than those who have come before in search of connecting the soles of their feet with the soul of the divine.
So God says, “Answer me!” with the movement of your life. “Answer me!” with the movement of your life. “Answer me!” with the movement of your life.
In the beginning and in the end, the Church will finally have no budgets or buildings, no stained glass or staff, but only what she needs: walkers.