Micah: Theatre of Justice

Micah: Theatre of Justice

Drawing of the prophet Micah, standing on a platform, teaching in the marketplace.Imagine. You have arrived at Speaker’s Corner in Jerusalem. Because you have heard that the prophet Micah is going to perform. He’s coming with his theatre troupe, “The Humble Justice Players.”

Politically, it’s been a tense time. Just across the border, a greedy empire threatens to take over. And you know, if you do not strengthen your own community,  you might fall too.

But you don’t know what to do. So, you hope the prophet Micah will give you some good ideas.

Now, you, you’re a storyteller. You know all your traditional stories, all your ancestral stories. So, you’re confident you will understand the play. Because Micah always loads up the script with those inter-textual, inter-story allusions. But, just to be safe, you invite your sister, too. Because she is a poet, and she knows how to listen for wordplay.

So, there you two are, in the crowd, at the edge of the marketplace. Standing in a big semi-circle around a little platform.

The prophet comes out. He stands in front of the platform. And then everyone quiets down.

Micah says:

We convene the session. An arbitration. God brings a case against the people. Against all of you here today.

So, there’s no one left but the land itself to be our witness.

God will speak first.

A voice calls out from behind the platform. It’s one of the Justice players, in the role of the Imageless God. She says:

What did I do when I brought you out of Egypt? Out of the house of slavery, into freedom? Did I wrong you? No! I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to guide you.

Remember when King Balak sought to harm you? What did the prophet Balaam do? He blessed you!

Suddenly, actors fill the platform. They enter stage right; stage left. They’re all talking at once. And then, their voices quiet to a hum. One shouts:

We are sorry! What shall we do to make it up to you?

Another says:

Do you want money?

Then another says:

How about in-kind donations?

And a third actor says:

Maybe we can give our children a good religious education?

But the prophet raises his arm and says:

No! God has already told you what is good.

Justice. Loving kindness. And walking humbly with the LORD.

Then, there’s a moment of silence. The actors bow. And the crowd applauds. Then the actors sit at the edge of the stage. And they invite everyone to a post-show talkback.

But you do not need to come. Because, for you, the meaning of the play was clear. So, you share your thoughts with your sister.

Did you get it? The key is remembering our ancestral stories. In the play, God says, “I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Well, Moses designed the laws and the justice system. Aaron was the peacemaker. He led the rituals of healing. Miriam was the artist, the singer and the dancer.

Then God says, “Remember Balaam.” Well, Balaam knew God through dreams. And when his spiritual vision failed, he let his donkey teach him how to see God.

So, God is saying: I gave you all these great spiritual tools. Good laws to follow; rituals to encourage community peace; arts to open your hearts together; your own dreams where you see possibilities; other creatures who can show you different perspectives on yourself.

You’re supposed to use these tools to create just laws. To do acts of extraordinary loving kindness. And to look deep inside yourself with humility.

But do we do that? No. Even when we say we’re sorry, we don’t do any self-reflection at all. That’s what our society needs right now. To take a good, hard look at ourselves.

And your sister says,

Oh, that’s a good analysis. But I saw something else. The key is in the word “What.” Didn’t you see how it threads through the whole play?

God says: WHAT did I do when I brought you up from Egypt? God is challenging the people with a question. What was the essence of the Exodus? It was an act of love, resulting in justice!

And God says, remember WHAT Balaam did? What was the essence of Balaam’s spiritual growth? It was humility!

And then the people come out. Clearly, they don’t understand anything at all. They ask, WHAT should we do? But all their ideas are material. They cannot see past their materialism into any spiritual essence.

So then the prophet comes and weaves it all together. He says, Don’t be dense, people. God told you WHAT is good to do. Justice, love, and humility. That’s the essence of a spiritual life. It’s what our society needs! Not more money.

So you and your sister look at each other. Because, mostly, you agree about what you heard.

Then, you head off together to found the Circle for Spiritual Insight: a new group dedicated to learning and activism. Because the prophet did not tell you what to do. Instead, he inspired you to step up and choose a path.

Based on Micah 6:1-8; originally presented at St. George’s Anglican Church, Fort Langley, BC.

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