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Isaiah: Touch of the Burning CoalJeremiah: How Long Will the Land Mourn?Ezekiel: From Heart of Stone to Heart of FleshThe Book of the Twelve: Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters

Biblical prophets/The Book of the Twelve: Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters

Meditation and Reading taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
All other text by Cynthia Stewart

For a historical introduction to this sacred text, see Leader Resource 1: Historical Introduction -
Today's Themes

The Biblical prophets variously thunder at the people for the evil they do, lament the coming and inevitable judgment, express despair at the current situation and proclaim a better future on the horizon. But if one theme wends its way through all of these various situations and emotions, it is the call to act justly. And this justice is not to be limited to the known, to the community: rather, the call is to justice for the widow and the orphan, for the stranger and the alien, for the Chosen People and the peoples who do not identify with this name.

The justice of God, we are told, covers all peoples, because all peoples are people of God. So must the justice of those who wish to stand in the ways of God cover all people, and all actions: we are called to act justly personally and communally, religiously and politically, toward those who support us and those who revile us, those who are deserving and those who are not. This vision of justice is a vision of peace, and it is achingly beautiful.

Today’s call to worship is based on Amos 5:21-24. The reference in the benediction is to Micah 6:8.

Call To Worship

Let us call our hearts together with these words inspired by the vision of the prophet Amos:

Where pomp and ceremony replace fervor and devotion,
     There the Lord stands back.
Where giving is done in hope of praise rather than in an outpouring of generosity,
     There the Lord stands back.
Where hymn and harmony become presentation rather than proclamation,
     There the Lord stands back.

But where justice rolls down like waters,
Where righteousness moves like an ever-flowing stream,
     There the Lord stands with his people.

May the Lord stand among us today.



When Israel was a child, I loved him,
     and out of Egypt I called my son…
     How can I hand you over, O Israel?...
My heart recoils within me;
     my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my fierce anger;

     I will not again destroy [Israel];
for I am God and no mortal,
     the Holy One in your midst,
     and I will not come in wrath.

          Hosea 11:1, 8-9 (NRSV)


In days to come
     the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
     and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
     and many nations shall come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the
     mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of
that he may teach us his ways
     and that we may walk in his paths.”
He shall judge between many peoples,
     and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
     and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
     neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit together under their
     own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
     for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

          Micah 4:1-4 (NRSV)


Much of life is difficult, but the prophet Micah reminds us that the instructions for being in harmony with God are very simple: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

So let the work of justice be ever at hand in the days to come, and let kind words fill our heads and hearts so that they will also fill our speech and actions. As we walk beyond these doors, let us remember our connection to each other, to our world, and to this amazing universe of which we are a part.

And let us remember that connection each amazing day of our lives.