4th Sunday after the Epiphany [by Rev Dr Rachel Mash]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Mic 6:1-8
Zeph 2:3,3:12-13
2nd Reading
1 Cor 1:18-31
Matt 5:1-12
by Rev Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator, Anglican Church of Southern Africa


Reflection on Micah 6: 1-8

Last year the north of Mozambique was battered by Cyclone Idai. An inland sea was formed and people lost homes and crops. Months later people have rebuilt temporary houses and this week flooding struck again. Some of the same people have lost two homes within months.

In 2005 the Anglican Communion was involved in a big campaign called “make poverty history” but Climate Change is making poverty inevitable for hundreds of thousands of people.

As the globe warms, scenes of devastation-flooding, drought and sea level rise will become more and frequent. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in a warming world? We need a theology of adaptation, that enables us to live as followers of the way of Jesus in a seemingly hopeless place. Into this context the voice of the prophet Micah booms forth with a call to action.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

What is the context for this well loved verse? It comes in the midst of a damning tirade from Yahweh against his people, particularly the leaders, set against the back-drop of a court scene, in which the created order form the jury: ‘Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, O mountains, Yahweh’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth’ (6:1).

Nature is part of the jury which is judging the people of God. Yahweh is calling his people back to repentance and to a life lived according to ‘his ways’ (4:2) and how does he want that to happen? Not through sacrifices and religious worship, but through a life that acts justly, and loves mercy, and walks humbly with him (6:8).

As the challenges become greater and greater, we are being called to examine who we are as Church, which our priorities for mission and ministry, where do we prioritise our budgets? Are we still focussing the bulk of our time, energy and human resources on maintaining the institution of the church, or are we committing our lives to acts of justice? Just as nations are having to adapt to climate change, so must the Church.

Without justice, water does not flow downhill, it flows towards the rich. Without justice, rubbish and pollution flow towards the poor.

God is on the side of the poor. He has to be.

by Rev Dr Rachel Mash, South Africa