On more than one occasion, pastors and laypersons from progressive congregations have confided in me, “We are a little weak in our theology; we know what we don’t believe but have trouble articulating our own faith to one another and to newcomers.” They recognize that a vital faith lives by its affirmations as well as its negations, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.
The passage from
Micah raises some important theological questions related to God's revelation.
Micah is clear that focusing solely on our well-being and declaring war on the
poor will lead to a cessation of revelation and vision.
African-American mystic and spiritual leader Howard Thurman recalls being caught in a summer thunderstorm as a young boy. As he filled his bucket and mouth with delicious berries and plunged deeper into the forest, he neglected to notice the storm that was forming on the horizon. Then he heard crashes of thunder. Suddenly he realized that he was lost.
When I held my first grandchild in my arms, my perception of time was transformed. I began to ponder what his life would be like. I reflected on how it would be shaped by our responses to the challenges we are facing today—global climate change, economic uncertainty, nanosecond technology and the eclipse of the American empire.
The reading from Isaiah reminds us that the world is a turbulent and unsettling place. Even Isaiah is not immune; his time was one of great national grief and uncertainty, and he retreats to the temple to try and recover a sense of perspective and peace of mind.
In his book Open Secrets, Richard Lischer describes his response to the challenges of his first congregational call. “My congregants were expected to welcome an inexperienced 28-year-old stranger into a community as tightly sealed as a jar of canned pickles.
When I was a college student, I sought a faith I could affirm. I had
been raised in a conservative Christian home. I discovered spirituality
during the psychedelic '60s, found a spiritual practice through
Transcendental Meditation, and returned to church.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.