Years ago I came across a beautiful version of Micah 6:8 from the Talmud. This past week as we received news of more hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes these words immediately came to mind:
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
But neither are you free to abandon it."
The destruction and devastation our brothers and sisters have faced and will continue to face is enormous. In moments such as this, the world's grief can be daunting. Yet, the message of Micah reminds us to consider what the Lord indeed requires of us as people of faith.
What is required is not inaction, indecision, or the wringing of our hands. Yet, what is required is also not knee jerk reactions, quick solutions and pithy proclamations. Micah's challenge is for us to consider the ways we can show forth justice, love, and mercy by walking humbly alongside our God and those who are suffering and in need.
What resonates deeply with me about the Talmud's version of Micah 6:8 is that it reminds us that we are required; we are called to respond now. We are called to do something now even if we cannot completely solve the problem or eliminate all suffering.
So what can we in the Illinois South Conference do?
1) Continue to support the work of the UCC Disaster Ministries. Recently, we sent $54,000 from the Mittendorf fund directly to the UCC Disaster Ministries and now these monies will be used towards the relief work for those who have suffered the effects of recent hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.
2) Get involved with ISC workdays. Our first workday will be Thursday, September 21 at St. John UCC, Collinsville (Specifics of this event can be found in this issue of Weekly Connection) as we will assemble Church World Service emergency clean up buckets. We will be planning more workdays in the coming months. (Stay tuned for more information)
3) Look for other opportunities to be in service and share your ideas, your time and your talents with others in the Conference as we organize and plan events in the days, months and years to come. Recovery work takes a great deal of time and effort. Long after the news reporters leave and those who are not dealing with these realities move on, recovery work will still be done.
May each of us remember, we "are not obligated to complete the work," but likewise we are not "free to abandon it."