Sermon 10/27/19   Micah 6:1-8

First UCC – Carlisle               It’s just a cliché

 

I would like to start today and talk about one of the words in my sermon title and define it.  I wish to do this so I can reasonably assume that we will all on the same path through this sermon time.  People may be familiar with the term cliché. This word comes from the French language, the word clicher, which means to overuse.  The definition that I think sums up this word is as follows: a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.  With something being used too frequently I think that one potential impact of the overused sentence or phrase can be that it begins to lose its meaning or its impact.  Allow me to mention some common phrases which may well be used a lot and hence could be considered cliché

 

Actions speak louder than words

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Ignorance is bliss

 

With something being said so much, it seems to me as though the overuse of something tends to dull its meaningfulness.  I think cliché’s can be risky in that effectiveness of points are reduced, and any intended significance of such a sentence or phrase can be reduced or lost.  So there are serious challenges to cliches.

 

Hollywood is another example to discuss today when it comes to clichés.  We probably have experienced movie clichés and have not given it much thought.  A movie cliche is just something that the directors and producers try to make look good in the movie, but has been so overused in many other movies that it has become unoriginal and doesn’t have the same impact and intention good place in said movie (Wikipedia)

There are other locations we can find things that could become cliché.  Take the bible for instance.  Perhaps one of the most well known and most used passages comes from the Gospel of John and occurs within the conversation that Jesus has with the palace guard, for God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  For anyone who has ever been to a sporting event, or watched one of television, it is almost a certainty that they will have seen this scripture, mentioned in the form of John3:16, or some other way convey by someone at the event.

There are patterns in the Bible which are seen so frequently they could be consider cliché: whether it is the pattern of the words and actions of the Israelites where they live away from God, are punished, repent and in time return to God.  There are similarities that we can see in many of the prophetic books, with similar messages and themes.  It could be troubling to see these statements and patterns because it might begin to wear away at the impact of the Bible, or the message that god is trying to convey to us through scripture.

The book of the Bible today also contains a very often used passage, and can also be considered cliché.  We are looking at the Book of Micah.  This writing is gathered amongst the twelve minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

Based on what scripture tells us, he is considered to a contemporary of three other prophets: Isaiah, Hosea and Amos.  We can learn from this book that Micah was from Moresheth-Gath, a town in southwest Judah. The beginning of this book states that Micah prophesied during the reigns of kings JothamAhaz, and Hezekiah of Judah.  This approximate time from would be 737 BCE to 696 BCE.  To reinforce the authenticity of this prophet and his message scholars note that the prophet Jeremiah, who was a prophet approximately thirty years after Micah, identified Micah as a prophet from Moresheth who prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah.

This period of history was marked with turmoil and hostility.  During this period the Israelites went to war against the Ammonites (Jotham), the people of Aram and Pekah (Ahaz), and the King and people of Assyria (Hezekiah)1.    Life became increasingly challenging as the Assyrians starting conquering neighboring communities and slowly hemming in the Kingdom of Judah and its people.

When viewing these verses from this Biblical book it can observed that Micah’s messages were directed chiefly toward Jerusalem.  He prophesied the future destruction of Jerusalem and Samaria, the destruction and then future restoration of the Judean state, and he rebuked the people of Judah for dishonesty in their commercial dealings, as well as in their religious faith and other parts of their lives.  The Samarians were judged for their idolatry and worship of deities other than Yahweh..  Micah spoke of this well worn pattern of destruction of the community and the diaspora of people and also talked of a future restoration (as many other prophets had).  For future time, Micah spoke of a peace for the entire community, a leader that would emerge and lead the people, and talked of the priorities the Israelite community could embrace that would bring them a closer relationship with God (faithful worship, living lives of social justice and building healthy relationships with god and one another).

 

I had mentioned a frequently used phrase from this book.  It is found in the eighth verse of the sixth chapter: the verse says he has told you o mortal what is good, and what does the lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before your God?  This is frequently mentioned by others when a call for justice occurs.
this has been true, since the time of Micah, but also in succeeding years, and even true today in current society.  It has been quoted in times where there is injustice and people being oppressed.  It is possible that it has been used so often that this verse fro the book of Micah, it can be considered a cliché.  It may have even lost some meaning for some people.

Here is the bottom line with cliché’s however, we may have heard them often, we might have heard these phrases spoken so frequently that they have begun to lose meaning to us or to others.  But the words still remain.  And the impact of the words still stand.  God has place messages and teachings within Holy Scripture in the New testament as well as the Hebrew Bible.  And so the challenge is not with the words, not with what may have been determined as a cliché, but rather with us.    we must take the time to incorporate the lessons of scripture into our lives.  We must learn from the lives of the Israelites and others before us. to build and strengthen our relationship with God and one another in an effort to build up the realm of God and the spiritual body of Christ.

It is common that in Biblical times, statements and phrases were repeated to accentuate their meaning and their level of importance, and not meant to lose their significance.  We must fight the temptation to drift away from repeated statements and points, and avoid the possibility of regulating words and statements to being only cliché and not meaningful.  Instead we listen to the word of God, through scripture and our lives.  Any cliché may seem worn and overly utilized, and yet there is still truth to discerned from those statements and sentences.

The words of the prophet Micah have been long associated with efforts towards justice.  . In the verses of this book of the Bible, we can observe a godly person who speaks of justice and peace for this world.  We can see his efforts to speak of God and god’s interest in justice for the community.  And we take from the scriptures that God intends to bring peace and justice into this world.  And we must do what we can to aid God with our words and actions.

Thanks be to God and may the people of god say amen