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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

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Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Epiphany 4
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading

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 tens of 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?


Reflection on Micah 6: 1-8
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Bringing the Common Good "Before the Lord"

The divorce between private and public life cuts both ways. It is not only personal life that requires attention, but also the common good. That was the prophet Micah’s position 27 centuries ago when he answered the question: "With what shall I come before the Lord?"

Then and now that is the question. "What is good" (Micah 6:8), then and now? What happens when doing social justice is cut off from private pious words? The economy prospers, but "your wealthy are full of violence" (6:12). Public marketplaces have "wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights" (6:11). People think they can "better" themselves with amoral financial transactions, forgetting "the saving acts of the Lord" (6:5). Even the mountains and hills that are polluted by such a culture hear that "the Lord has a controversy with his people" (6:2).

What do we bring to God? Actions, actions that "do justice." Actions that forgive as we have been forgiven: "love mercy." Actions that are genuine and without hypocritical pretense: "walk humbly with your God" (6:8). Those are the deeds of "the good life," deeds that build a community out of the common good, deeds in "a day for the building of your walls" (7:11). The community that does those deeds is creative in problem-solving, forgiving sins, and moving on, moving on "to beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks" (4:3).

Printable version

To Reflections on other Readings for Year A, Epiphany 4:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Micah 6:1-8
(this page)
Micah 6:1-8
(this page)
Psalm 37:1-18
New Testament Lesson
1 Corinthians 1: (18-25) 26-31
1 Corinthians 1: 18-31
Matthew 4: 12-23
Matthew 4: 12-23


John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 1999.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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