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Center for Action and Contemplation
Mending the Breach
Mending the Breach

Inheriting a Prophetic Call

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

What does the Lord require of you? Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. —Micah 6:8

The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis recalls her mother’s deep devotion to justice:

A fierce activist for peace and justice, [my mom] dedicated herself my entire life to organizing for the human rights of all people, an end to war and global conflict, interreligious understanding, and the abolition of poverty and racism….

My mom’s favorite Bible passage … was always Micah 6:8. She knew that doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God were the true instructions for living a faithful and impactful life. Her faith and activism were one.

Micah 6:6–8 is a typical story of the prophets. Biblical prophets tell the people what is necessary for honoring and worshipping God. Indeed, they all tell the same story: that God desires mercy, justice, and peace, especially for the poor, the widows, the suffering, and the victims of war. The prophets admonish us and the ruling authorities to work for peace and dedicate ourselves to ending poverty.

The book of Micah instructs that the only way to honor and worship God is to welcome the immigrant neighbor, the homeless, and the bruised and battered. Micah says we must overcome bias and inequality and advocate for all God’s children to have what they need to thrive, not merely and barely survive….

God does not ask for luxurious gifts, nor for the sacrifice of lives and livelihoods. God instead wants all people to prosper—for no one to have too much while others have too little. God demands justice, not charity or sacrifice. God longs for the righting of wrongs, the repairing of breaches….

Justice is possible. I learn this from the prophet Micah [and] from my fierce, prophetic mom. Our God will hear us. After all, God already does. [1]

The Rev. Dr. William Barber also absorbed the Bible’s prophetic call from his parents:

The Bible was not just a book of the church or a guide for personal devotion. It was the book of the movement. When we stood against social injustice, our stance had to be rooted in the word of God….

We lived in one of the poorest regions of North Carolina. My parents challenged racism and economic injustice not just because they were unjust social realities but also because the Spirit requires a quarrel with the world’s injustices. They found this mandate in the pages of the B-I-B-L-E. I was taught Micah 6: What doth the Lord require, but to do justice? Isaiah 58: We are called to be repairers of the breach, to loose the bands of wickedness. Luke 4: The spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach good news to the poor. Matthew 25: Inasmuch as you do to the least of these, you do it unto me. These were not just texts for memorization. They were the anchors around which an authentic Christian life must be centered. [2]


[1] Liz Theoharis, “What Doth the Lord Require?” in We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign, ed. Liz Theoharis (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2021), 169, 170, 171.

[2] William J. Barber II, foreword to We Cry Justice, x.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Alma Thomas, Snoopy—Early Sun Display on Earth (detail), 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Snow Reflection on Pond (detail), 1973, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Loïs Mailou Jones, Jeune Fille Français (detail), 1951, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Click here to enlarge image.

We accept the breach as an invitation to repair: piece by piece, thread by thread, we heal together.

Story from Our Community:  

I’d like to share a memory of my mother, who was and is my favorite theologian. When I was about nine years old, I accompanied my mother, a classically trained organist, to the church where she played for worship. She asked me to sit beside her and explained that J.S. Bach composed his fugues in a minor key because we all live, the best we can, in a world that often feels like it takes place in a minor key. Then she began to play. I remember her physical force as she swayed and breathed in a kind of frantic meditation. Breathless and with a sense of accomplishment, she told me to listen how the fugue ended on a major chord. She explained that the major key signaled that in our final moments, our Creator would buoy us into a reunion with all that was, and is, and is to come. —Mark F.

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