In the 2012 film, Marvel’s The Avengers, Loki is standing outside before a crowd. Soon he tells the crowd to kneel, saying that is their natural state. It is a rather startling portrayal of a suddenly fearful people doing what they are told; doing something they otherwise would not have done.
Then just as suddenly, from within the crowd an older man stands up. Loki points him out to the bowing crowd, who must sense the man is about to die. A split second before the “Elder” would have died, Captain America arrives and redirects the deadly force back to Loki. Snapped out of their compliant state by the ensuing battle between Loki and Captain America, the crowd disperses.
In our tradition, Easter arrives this Sunday, April 21st. The significance of Easter is that it is the culmination of Holy Week. Holy Week takes us from Passion/Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday until the day of Resurrection. Holy Week takes us from Jesus’ celebrated and oppositional entry into Jerusalem through his last evening with his disciples, his crucifixion, death, and burial to his being raised from the dead.
The Easter Celebration is of one who stood against the ways of empire and its most horrific use of force. Easter celebrates the one who in life and death showed others how to live into the reign of God which is the vision of a reality difficult to discern, but very present.
Jesus was not saved from death. Yet afterward, he was raised by God. No one else could have done it. While some people were cowering in fear, Jesus was visible above them, innocent, and alone but for two others being crucified beside him. No Captain intervened. Jesus died. Christ was raised.
May all of us be raised to witness life anew.
What is a prophet? What is a false prophet? Who are the false prophets today? Who are today’s prophets? What are the criteria which distinguish false prophets and prophets? Relevant clues are in the Bible. Jesus, in Matthew 25.31-46 is one place to look. Isaiah and Jeremiah are good places to start.
Here, Micah gives us clues in 2.1-2, 7c-9, and 6.6-8.
“Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power. They covet fields and seize them; houses and take them away; they oppress the householder and the house, people and their inheritance. … Do not my words do good to one who walks uprightly? But you rise up against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my glory forever. … ‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before my God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be please with thousands of rams, with ten 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?”
I wonder how each of us would answer these questions and fill in these blanks. What would I write if I were to put Micah’s message in my own words?
What is not good? What is good?
Doing justice is not ___________. Doing justice is ___________.
Kindness is not _________. Kindness is ______.
Walking humbly with your God is not _____ Walking humbly with your God is ________
Rev Jim Sinclair
Pastor Jim is the minister for First United Baptist Church