Moral Mondays



Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

The minor prophet, Micah, doesn’t get a lot of play in our churches. At a mere seven chapters, the scope of this Old Testament book is surprisingly broad with no unified theme. Like most preachers on Sunday morning, Micah weaves back in forth between visions of judgment and images of hope, addressing the threats from Assyria and Babylon, the failings of Israel and Judah, and urging hearers to learn from the past and repent of their evil while trusting God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to bring about hope and renewal. Of course, for most of us the great gift of Micah is this gem and favorite verse of so many, “He has told you, human one, what is good and what the LORD requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 CEB).

We know what is good, God is good, life is good; but what we struggle with is doing what God requires of us: justice, faithful love, and humble participation in the life of faith. In the United Church of Christ, we do justice. Our predecessor denominations were known for their justice work: from the Christians and Congregationalists we have a rich abolitionist heritage who fought to free the slaves and were the first to ordain women and African Americans as ministers. Our Evangelical and Reformed heritage is filled with social justice work in hospitals and children’s homes. Our merger to become the United Church of Christ in 1957 positioned us to take an active role in the Civil Rights movements in the 1960’s and we took on the issues of gay rights back in the 70’s. Before climate change was “a thing”, the UCC was advocating for environmental justice in the 80’s and in 2005, we were the first church in America to endorse marriage equality. The United Church of Christ takes “doing justice” seriously.

We do justice, not to be politically correct, but because it is what God has instructed us to do. However, we cannot forget the rest of this mandate; doing justice must include faithful love and humility in relationship with God. This means we need to do more than jump on whatever bandwagon some soundbite urges us toward. We must diligently and prayerfully work to discern how the issues and problems of today affect God’s people and God’s world. With humility we must be ready to have our minds changed by the Spirit of God as experienced through careful reflection upon scripture, experience, and reason. To that end, a new study and discussion group is being offered this year as a joint effort of St. John UCC and Our Saviour’s UCC. The purpose of this group will be to delve into some of the ‘hot button’ issues of the day, examine the facts, study scripture, discuss and pray that we may better understand and address these issues from a faith based perspective.  Topics planned include: White Privilege, Immigration, the use of torture by US military and its allies, race relations, hunger, and homosexuality. “Moral Mondays: We Need to Talk” Social Justice Study Group will be held on Monday evenings at 6pm in the Education Room at St. John United Church of Christ (if our group is too large we will move to the lower level). The first session will be held on September 19. All materials for sessions will be provided. Most of the resources being used have been developed by either the National Offices of the United Church of Christ or the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

To help us develop a framework for meaningful and respectful dialogue we will begin the year with Parker Palmer’s “Five Habits of the Heart That Help Make Democracy Possible.” While not required, participants may find it helpful to read Palmer’s book “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit” (available from most booksellers or contact Pastor Tara to order by August 15th).

All of us have much to learn and to consider on these tough issues facing us today. As Christians it is our responsibility to prayerfully and humbly delve into these issues together so that we may discern how we might work with God in bringing about justice in our world. It’s time to go beyond the soundbites and the partisanship to bring about real and lasting change that heals the brokenness of our world and brings us all closer together and nearer to our God. Together may we move forward bringing hope and healing to the world.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Tara