In his sermon at the Council Eucharist, Thursday evening, February 21, Bishop David Reed expressed great thanks for St. Bartholomew’s, who is hosting Council this year, “Not just for a three-day lesson in generous hospitality and gracious service, but also for the example of your life and ministry in Corpus Christi for 54 years, a congregational witness to the power of the Gospel, the wisdom of cooperation, and the importance of friendship.
Reed then turned to the Council theme: “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God,” from Micah 6:8.
The setting of Micah, as Reed visualized it, is a courtroom which puts the people of God in court, contending with God who has a controversy, “a major beef with them,” as Reed said. During this time, says Reed, among the people there was “lots of political infighting, divisions that ran deep, and while God was on everyone’s lips in the temple, he was pretty much ignored the rest of the time.”
The accused attempt to plea-bargain with God – offering sacrifices of calves, thousands of rams, 10,000 rivers of oil, their first-born. But God doesn’t want lip service, said Reed. “He wants us, walking with him, realigned with him, being just people, being humble people.”
Reed reflected on the place of prophets and that they are rarely appreciated. “They often get invited to get out of town,” said Reed. Jesus, he said, is our most real prophet, and his first word of proclamation was to call people to repentance because the Kingdom of heaven was at hand. “And if Jesus is our great, true prophet, then within our genetic make-up is a prophetic task,” he said.
Our point of reference in the world tends to be culture rather than the cross, said Reed. The prophetic word, said Reed, is addressed to the Church, within the new covenant established in Christ. What makes us truly prophetic and counter-cultural is “not where we come down on the political spectrum, but rather that we know Jesus, and the world does not.” With the rise in social justice causes, it has become harder and harder to hold up the cross, to speak the prophetic language of faith we have received, he said.
Friendship, he said, is not an optional by-product of the covenant. It could be that the most important thing in these times is for us to be determined to be friends, to count our disagreements as less important, less defining, than being friends together with God. We need to understand how compelling is our prophetic witness of truly befriending each other, for Christ’s sake.
Micah and other prophets, said Reed, time and again haul us into court and call us “to get over ourselves and look up from our lives.” What God wants from us is us – in companionship with him, in friendship with one another in Christ, doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God.”
To read the entire sermon, visit the Council Live page.