Invitation to Humility

As our airwaves and platforms are saturated with requests, threats and predictions over the upcoming midterm elections, the unrelenting messaging machines generate visceral reactions, to be sure, but also – maybe, some personal reflection, if not introspection.  What is important?  What values do I have and how can I hold them?  How am I/ how are we, supposed to live with one another – and how best to do that?

Nearly 3000 years ago the prophet Micah had a well- remembered admonition:  “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8).  Justice, kindness and humility.  Seemingly straightforward commitments, except they are not.  There are endless disputes as to what constitutes justice.  Kindness is a bit simpler, yet if there is any sort of cultural, economic or racial disparity between two people, kindness can often be perceived as manipulation or oppression.  And humility can often turn evolve into humiliation, which was certainly the case when recordings of a phone call among City Councilors in Los Angeles became public, revealing  an intention to humiliate a particular constituency, and using offensive, if not racist language in doing so.  The prevailing wisdom in our culture seems to be that the best way to avoid humiliation is to humiliate someone else.   

Except it doesn’t work.  Mutually assured humiliation just keeps people on edge, and undermines trust.  And in the Los Angeles case, generates calls for the Councilors to resign.

The Latin root of humility is humus, or of the earth.  It refers to being grounded.  Being humble invites a level of vulnerability.  When Micah calls people to walk humbly with their God (assuming there is an acknowledgement that there is a God with whom one can walk) the prophet is suggesting that they assume this posture of vulnerability.  Not to be stepped on, but to be opened up.

I have discovered that one of the most profound and abiding pathways to humility is to tell our story.  First to oneself, then to others.  Not our inflated story, or our edited story – or the story we think someone else wants to hear, but the full story – with all of its highs and lows.  The story of our life’s journey; the roads we have taken, the opportunities we have embraced or squandered, the fears that have surfaced, the lessons we have learned.

It could be said that what the Lord requires – justice, kindness and humility, is an invocation of God’s judgment.  For much of my life I interpreted God’s judgment as an invisible hammer that would be brought down with crippling force if we messed up.  (No wonder more and more people want to keep distant from such a forbidding God).  In recent years I have come to regard God’s judgment not as a reaction, but as an invitation – to tell our story.  To be humble and vulnerable.  Because when we tell our story – we are then inviting others, including God, into a deeper, and more abiding relationship.

And the kindness index goes up – and the humiliation quotient goes down.

Scams: Preying on Vulnerability and Violating Trust

I fell for a scam last week.  My computer froze, a pop up alarm appeared and said needed to call Microsoft immediately to protect all that was stored on my desktop, lest foreign hackers steal my data, documents and identity.  The Microsoft number was prominently...

Easter: Breaking Through a Contraining System

He broke out.  He got up.  In faith Christians proclaim that Jesus rose from the grave:  Alleluia!  Christ is Risen.  What follows are hymns of praise, expressions of joy, a profusion of flowers – all offered to gatherings that are double the size of a normal Sunday...

Ep 11 – “Passion and Patience” with The Rev. Dr. Amy Peeler

Amy shares about her journey of faith, path to ordination as an Episcopal priest, passion for and vocation of studying scripture, and the blessings and challenges she has experienced along the way.

Fake News, Misinformation, and Truth

When I arrived in Japan in late August, 1973, for a two year fellowship, the country was preparing to honor the 50th anniversary of the Tokyo earthquake, which upended the city for four minutes on September 1, 1923.  140,000 people were killed, many by the 7.9...

Reflections on Christian Nationalism

“The opposite of faith is not doubt”, a wise mentor once said to me, recalling a line from Christian writer Anne Lamott; “the opposite of faith is certainty.”  Religious claims of certainty have been surging on public platforms and in various political expressions. ...

Fighting Insults and Condemnation with the Power of Love

We were at the breakfast table.  My daughter, then about a year and a half, was in her highchair, scrambled eggs on the tray in front of her.  With an impish grin, she threw some of her meal on the floor.  “Don’t do that,” I said in a rather stern tone.  With an even...

Contrasting Interpretations of Discipline

“We will not allow for a policy of ‘anything goes’”.  So said the Chair of a plenary meeting of Anglican bishops in 2008.  There were about seven hundred bishops from around the world attending the once every decade gathering in Canterbury, England.  The plenary took...

Selling the Soul to the Ego

I don’t know people who have literally sold their soul, a metaphor that goes back centuries, but there are many of us who have abandoned, ignored, forgotten or dismissed the very concept of soul.  There are ancient and medieval legendary characters — Theophilus, a...

What Do The Risks of Aleksei Navalny and Jesus Say to Us?

When Aleksei Navalny returned to Russia from Germany in January 2021 after recovering from being poisoned, prison was certain and death was likely.   Navalny died on Friday, February 16 at the IK-3 Penal Colony, located 1200 miles northeast of Moscow in the arctic...

Aging, the Election and a Pathway Through the Chaos

Are Joe Biden and Donald Trump too old to be President?  This question is getting a lot of attention, with no end of commentary.  Assessments are being made as to each candidate’s physical stamina, mental acuity, and psychological health.  Recommendations have been...
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join my mailing list to receive the latest blog updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!