Rich are the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday. Preachers will have a hard time choosing which texts to pursue. We have the beloved passage from Micah about what God requires, a psalm about holy living, Paul’s interpretation of the scandal of the cross, and Matthew’s framing of the Beatitudes. An even more daunting task will be to find an integrative theme that binds them all together.
I propose that each text describes how humans become agents of God’s redemptive project in the world. In God’s grand calculus of how creation unfolds, God intends that human agency be a key instrument for God’s purposes. So, what equips persons to become God’s holy partners?
Micah puts it simply: “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” (6:8). Psalm 15 echoes the prophet’s words: “those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart” (v. 2). Ethical attentiveness is essential.
According to the Apostle Paul, God invites the lowly, those who boast only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31) to participate in God’s cross-marked reclamation of a perishing world. It is Christ crucified who accords wisdom and righteousness and sanctification that we might share in God’s holy work.
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount sketches discipleship as radical dependence upon God. Persons who know their lack and vulnerability—whether poor in spirit, meek, mourning, or persecuted—are more likely to be receptive to God’s way of making them “blessed.” To paraphrase St. Augustine: Command of me, O God, whatever you will, but give me the grace to pull it off.
God is fashioning partners who will make visible the divine dream for the beloved creation. God grants the grace to “pull off” what God is beckoning us to do. Of that we can be confident.
Over the past few days I have been interviewing gifted candidates for the women’s leadership development create cohort. Each woman has a vision for a ministry that will make a concrete difference in the lives of others. Through life experience and spiritual sensitivity, they perceive that God has particular work for them to do, work which will make their hearts rise up. It is a privilege to hear of their dreams to follow God’s call.
It is my experience that God matches what most needs doing in the world with the unique capacities of those committed to being a holy partner. It is usually bracing work that “keeps making more out of us,” as Gail Godwin put it.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.