Do you walk humbly with God?
Yesterday Tom and I returned to Aldersgate United Methodist Church and their “informal and somewhat contemporary” 8:30 worship service. Since we were there in May, the church has received a new Senior Pastor. Tom and I were hoping that the new pastor, Rev. Randy Blanton, would be as good as the previous Senior Pastor.
We are happy to report that we enjoyed the service very much. The opening voluntary was a unique blend of “Clair de Lune” and “Jesus Loves Me.” Everything except the melody line sounded exactly like “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy (I played it a lot when I was younger). We sang some wonderful “somewhat contemporary” songs with the praise band and really enjoyed the combined adult and children’s choir anthem.
The message by Rev. Blanton was very good. Even though he read from the passage in Matthew about judging between the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25), the real text of his sermon was 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.”
This text is important to Rev. Blanton because social justice and practiced mercy is a lifestyle for him and something that is sometimes lacking in church people. It turns out Rev. Blanton preaches without shoes and, although the service is informal, people had been wondering why. So Rev. Blanton gave them this explanation.
At one of Rev. Blanton’s first churches, there was a young girl named Brittany who attended church with her grandmother. Brittany lived with her extended family in a home that had a hole in the roof and too many people stuffed into its three bedrooms. Family members slept on the porch summer and winter. Brittany was an acolyte at the church and often came to church dressed in clothes that were too big or too small.
One day Brittany came wearing wedged shoes that were several sizes too large. Brittany had decided it would be better to acolyte barefooted than to trip going down the aisle and Rev. Blanton agreed. But when choir members saw the shoeless girl, they were appalled and insisted she put her shoes back on. She did and managed to totter down the aisle without falling. The choir followed her and took their seats. When Rev. Blanton came down the aisle – before he took his seat – he very deliberately took off both his shoes within sight of the choir and everyone in the congregation.
To this day, Rev. Blanton preaches without shoes to remind himself, as he stands in the pulpit, of the need for practiced mercy and humility. God wants us to show mercy and love to others – to accept them where they are and to seek to walk “in their shoes.” Too many Christians are judgmental and feel entitled to some kind of special grace which they refuse to extend to others. Too few of us are willing to put ourselves in the place of “the least of these.” Mercy, compassion, and humility are in short supply these days as, perhaps, they have always been.
Maybe we need to take off our shoes so that we remember to walk with love, mercy, compassion, and humility.
Walk humbly with your God.