Justice and Mercy

Connecting Spiritual Formation and Justice

At our Second Wednesdays meeting in February, Coracle explored the connection between “Spiritual Formation and Justice”.  We hosted a conversation with Rev. Bill Haley, Coracle’s Executive Director; Kristy Wallace Grant, Director of The Repentance Project; and Rev. Chris Lugo, Coracle’s Community Minister for the DMV.  The gathering took place at Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA on February 8, 2023.  Here is the recording of that conversation:

Why are we talking about spiritual formation and justice – together? 

Just after my first week at law school, I noticed the inscription on, for me, an unforgettable bronze statue of the prophet Micah.  The statue, about 20 inches tall, was a man in an angular robe with elongated arms and legs.  His left arm was straight out, pushing, while his right arm was by his side pushed slightly backward.  His head and shoulders thrust forward, hair blown back with his legs planted firmly behind him.  He looked like he was walking into a strong wind.  How the statue captured the intensity of the man’s movement amazed me then but the image and inscription, “Micah 6:8”, still captivates me after 35 years. 

That statue, that scripture, in a place where lawyers come to be formed and educated. Often sculptures captioned with Micah 6:8 are of the familiar blindfolded statue, unmoving, holding the scales of justice and a sword.  They do not show the prophet pushing, hard-pressed, walking into the wind.  But that may be the better image.

Micah 6:8 is a response to a series of personal questions begun in Micah 6:6-7, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? …”. Micah 6:8 answers with an imperative statement and another question:

He has told you, O man, 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?

“He has told you, O man, what is good” – the imperative.   “What does the Lord require of you” – the question.  The answer contains three actions – to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  Action, that is perhaps why the statue showed Micah striding, pressing hard as he strained to walk forward. 

To do justice is to act rightly toward others and the world.  To love kindness is to welcome others into our hearts.  And, to walk humbly with our God is how we incarnate Jesus in our own day-to-day lives.  The movement is from outer observable action to deeper, inner formation where the Holy Spirit acts, enabling us to do what God has told us is good and what he requires of us. As we do justice, love kindness, we will learn to walk humbly with our God.  We live into the new life we have in Jesus and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. Walking humbly with God does not always mean easy striding, sometimes, it may feel like pressing hard, walking into a headwind.

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