WITH YOUR GOD
Pam in San Bernardino
Once upon a time, there was a couple named John and Mary Miller. The Millers lived
in a fairly small town, in a fairly small state, in the middle of the United States.
They were both born in that town and had lived there all of their lives. John
and Mary had known each other since they were very small. They went to school
together, began dating in high school, and married at the age of 25.
Johns father died, not long after John and Mary were married, leaving him the family
businessa small market near the center of town. Mary joined John, working in
the market six days a week, and together they raised a small family, two daughters and one
Every day, they would rise early, eat a quick breakfast, work together all day in the
market and return home for a quiet dinner together. They had never taken a vacation.
Their days were busy, but not frantic. They worked hard, but had time to
relax at the end of the day, and Sundays were filled with family time and church
As John and Marys 50th wedding anniversary approached, John Jr. approached his
sisters with a plan. Lets take over running the store for a week, and send Mom
and Dad to New York for a vacation. Martha and Ann readily agreed, and an
anniversary party was arranged.
As you can imagine, John and Mary were stunned by this gift. After a few moments of
stammering and stuttering, they found themselves accepting with pleasure. Oh the
plans that they made! How do you pack for a trip to New York City when youve
never left home before? They took the next Sunday afternoon off and did a little
clothes shopping and bought luggage, and soon they were on their way.
Ann and Martha had arranged everything for the trip. Knowing that their parents
would be unlikely to make this trip a second time, Martha had purchased tickets and
planned an itinerary to make things easier. What a trip they had!
It was a busy, wonderful week. They went to the theater twice. The art museums
were incredible. They took the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
They even went to Coney Island and rode the double Ferris wheel. An afternoon
was spent shopping for gifts for all their friends and family. They rode the subway.
They even went to the zoo, where John was thrilled to see giraffes and elephants
for the first time. The smells and sounds of the animals were exotic and terribly
On their last morning in New York, John and Mary had planned to spend time walking in
Central Park, just across the street from their luxury hotel. The warmth of the
morning and the beauty of the green trees was inviting. Before long, they found a
bench in the shade and sat quietly together. They began to talk about their life and
their love for each other. Fifty years they had spent togetherreally together.
They spoke of romance.
Mary remembered the busiest of days in the market, when there was little time for
conversation, but she always knew that if she looked up, there John would be, helping
customers, talking to the children who came in for candy, or stocking shelves. She
knew that he was always there if she needed him. Just a glance was a reminder of all
that John meant to her.
John talked about watching Mary with their children, seeing her patience as they learned
to walk and to talk, watching her really listen when they shared their troubles with
hereverything from scratched knees to broken hearts.
And then they sat quietly for a while and took a little walkjust being together.
When they came home, the kids and grand kids wanted to hear all about the trip to New
York. John told all about the subway and the zoo. Mary talked about the
museums and the plays, and the shopping. But when Anne asked what they enjoyed the
most, John and Mary answered together, Our morning in the park!
Exegesis of Micah
Lets look at Micah now. You may not be familiar with this whole passage, but I
bet vs. 8 is one many of you know. What does the Lord require of you? We
quoted it this morning in our call to worship. It seems pretty straightforward, but
I want to look at the whole passage with you.
Micah, the prophet, has a strong message for his people. In this passage, Micah is
criticizing the people for putting the forms of religion above their actual relationship
with God. The way he makes his point is a very familiar pattern for the people of
his day, but it seems a little strange to us.
The setting is an imagined courtroom. The Lord is in the role of plaintiff, bringing
a lawsuit against Israel. The prophet acts as attorney. The defendant, Israel,
must listen to the charges and verdict.
The witness to the trial in this passage are the mountains and hills, the heights and
depths of the earth. They listen to the accusation. The Lord demands to know
how he could possibly have done any more for his people. He tells them to remember
his acts of salvation, freeing them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them into the
promised land. Remembering is the way of bringing the past to life in the present in
Hebrew thought. Remembering Gods acts of salvation is at the center of Jewish
In light of all that God has done, Israel replies that there is no way to repay Gods
loving care through sacrifices. In vs. 6 and 7 we hear an exaggerated, maybe even
sarcastic, list of possible sacrifices. Thousands of rams and rivers of oil
represent wealth beyond our imagination. Even the sacrifice of ones own child
(forbidden by Jewish law) could not repay God.
Then we hear the prophets familiar response. God has shown what is good.
And these words extend far beyond ancient Israel. In all of Gods acts
we have models for our own action. And so we are told what God expects in return.
Hear Three, Focus on One
Three things. Do justice. Love Kindness, Walk humbly with your God. It
seems as if the first two get plenty of attention. If I look back over the sermons
preached from this pulpit in recent months, by Pastor Norm, John, and myself, I remember
quite a bit of focus on doing and loving. We are often talking about all the things
we must do. Acting on our faith is very important, so dont think Im
trying to let you off the hook here, but I really just want you to hear the third part of
vs. 8 this morning.
Walk humbly with your God. In fact, I really just want you to hear the last three
words of that phrase: With Your God.
Commentaries tell us that that walking humbly with your God means to live
dependentlynot alone. To live in communion, in friendship with God.
There is a relationship implied here. God is not a distant being, unknowable,
unreachable. God is close, by our side. With us.
Word Study: Com-
Im a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I love dictionaries. I like seeking out
the roots of words, making connections between ideas. I got my dictionary out this
week. You see, I began to notice that the commentaries were all struggling to help
us understand what it might mean to walk with our God.
There is a word-part, com-, that comes from the Latin meaning with or
together. It is related to another word part, commun- which
means shared. It is related then, to words like community, communicate, communion.
Com- is found in companion, a familiar word which comes from two roots, com=together, and
panis=bread. Companions are literally those with whom we eat bread together.
They are those with whom we share the most vital parts of ourselves. Micah is saying
that God wants us to be his companions, to be together with him.
Com- is also found in compassion, com=with and pati=suffer. Compassion literally
means suffering with. It means sharing the pain of another. God is described
as compassionate. In fact the word that is translated for us as Love
kindness, can also be translated as steadfast love, mercy, and compassion.
Micah tells us to follow Gods lead, doing justice, showing compassion, and most
importantly to walk humbly with our God.
Weve read the 23rd Psalm this morning, another piece of familiar scripture, because
it reinforces some of what we learn from Micah 6:8. God is with us. Even
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with
me; Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be
afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
In 19____, on Christmas Eve, my father had a massive stroke. He died on January
first just after midnight. That was a long week, but it was a time of leaning on
those who care about us. It was a time of closeness with God. Time spent by my
fathers bedside was a time of prayer. During that week, when Jessie, our
Parish Nurse, was concerned about me, she reminded me of the 23rd Psalm. She said,
remember the valley of the shadow of death? Thats where you are now. She
didnt need to continue quoting the Psalm. I knew the rest as well as you do.
Even though I am in that valley, I will not be afraid. Why? Because God
is with me.
Visiting the Sick
Since my fathers death, Ive had quite a few opportunities to be in hospital
rooms with those who are dying or quite ill. At first it was hard. Each time,
it was like being by fathers bedside, and it brought some painful memories with it.
That has changed.
I find now that when I am by the side of someone near death, it still is like being by my
father. The sounds, the smells, the sight is very much the same. But now I
feel as if it is a gift from God that I can be there. I know that may sound strange,
but it is as if Im spending time with my father again, and I treasure that time of
And Gods presence there with us is so strong
With Your God
When you love someone, dont you just want to be with them. A parent, a child,
a lover, a spouse, a dear friend? It doesnt matter what you are doingthe
being together is what is important, isnt it? You can be busy working and not
even have time to speak, but just a glance at that one you love warms your heart.
We dont have to have elaborate plans together in order to appreciate the time we
spend WITH each other. All the museums and plays and boat rides cant compare
to walking together and talking together.
We know this instinctively. We hold on to memories of time spent with those we love.
Sometimes weve been doing things that are very important, but we could just
as easily have been riding in a car together, just enjoying the scenery. It is being
together that we need.
Micah tells us that this is what God wants with us. God expects us to be with Him.
It isnt in extravagant sacrifices that we please God. There is no way
that we can repay him for all he does for us. So in return he asks that we be as
God-like as we can, as just and kind, as compassionate, as caring, but most of all that we
walk with him all of our days.