But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the Lord’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.
Micah’s prophesy does not paint an optimistic picture for us. Instead, he provides a haunting and vivid account of the misery and destruction that arises from human sin. In Chapter 7, it is the city of Jerusalem herself crying out, telling us that no faithful people remain, all government leaders are corrupt; not even neighbors, friends, or family can be trusted. I have to admit, this depiction resonates with me to a degree, living in Washington. Some days, the morning news can sound endlessly depressing, the leaders that we trust to run our country can let us down, our relationships can feel defined and limited by our partisan leanings, and most of all, change can feel hopelessly and powerlessly out of our hands.
Nevertheless, in today’s reading, Israel clings to a confident hope that amidst the darkness she feels, God is with her and there will be light. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to be this light – in our family, in our workplace, in our community, in the world.
During Lent, we typically try to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, and we concentrate on discipline and self-development through fasting of food or habits; but the third, sometimes overlooked, practice of Lent is almsgiving. Often defined simply as physical or monetary charity, I appreciate how our Catholic brothers and sisters define almsgiving as “a work of justice pleasing to God.” While charity includes providing food, clothing, shelter, and services to those in need, justice seeks to change our structures and institutions to prevent the need for charity in the first place.
As Christians we believe every person reflects the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity. Our command to be a loving and welcoming Christian community extends to those of different backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, and religious beliefs. Over the last three years at St. John’s Church, the Refugee Committee has sought out ways to provide for and welcome our refugee neighbors. Parishioners have given countless hours and dollars to prepare apartments with furniture and household items for incoming refugee families, supply coats in colder winter months, provide scholarships and laptops for professional development, and encourage compassionate discussion of the issues with hope that our leadership in the community will effect policy change in our governing institutions. There is much work left to be done, and we hope you will join us in our efforts.
In Micah, Jerusalem echoes what our faith tells us: to trust in God, to hold fast to hope, and to be patient with God’s timing; but I believe it is important not to confuse these things with inaction. It is through our individual, intentional actions of compassion and love that we can bring light and reconciliation to our city. This Lent, I encourage you to seek out ways to actively share that hope to others.
Appointed readings for today: Micah 7:7-9, Psalm 27:1, 10-18, John 9:1-38