Micah 6: 7-8 (NRSVA)
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
8 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 always found it a little bit strange that the miller’s daughter in the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin was willing to promise her future first born child to the imp in order that he might spin straw into gold for her. Of course, the alternative was to have her head cut off by the king, so I suppose the pressure was on.
In the end she not only marries the king — who clearly felt that gold-spinning was a useful quality in a wife — but also manages to outwit Rumpelstiltskin and keep her child. So perhaps she knew what she was doing. Or perhaps, as the king moved her from room to room, giving her ever more straw, she simply got used to the idea of the stakes getting higher and higher to the point where she was willing to risk anything and anyone.
The prophet Micah slices through this kind of escalating clamour in Israel with a call to simplicity. God’s demands are not complicated, he says. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
First a necklace
Then a ring
Then a child
The clamour in my head says you want more from me, God. Always more.
More words, more offerings, more apologies, more bargains.
But what if you want less? What if it really is that simple?
Act justly. One action, then two.
Love mercy. One heartbeat, then two.
Walk humbly. One footstep, then two.
No straw. No gold. No ever escalating demands.
Just a quiet dance of obedience.