Yesterday we pondered the good news that changed the people at Colossae. Today we go back to Amos. Amos’s words are difficult, and they feel like anything but good news. This passage from Amos fits the stereotype of a gloom and doom prophet and offers a prime example of why people avoid reading Hebrew scriptures. If these words accurately reflect God’s nature and temperament, no wonder people reject God.
As Christians we proclaim good news. Not easy news or happy news but, in one way or another, good news. It is incumbent upon us to wrestle good news out of even the darkest texts. Amos tests that proposition.
The royal court doesn’t like what Amos has to say, and they ask him to shut up and leave. Amos only turns up the heat. Amos says God promises awful, terrible things for them all. Clearly Amos doesn’t intend this to be good news for them. They have forsaken their covenant with God, and the wages of sin is . . . well, you know. (See Romans 6:23.) We pray that this doesn’t apply to us, while we harbor a deep suspicion that it does.
If Amos prophesies bad news for those in charge of Israel, for whom would it be good news? It is a weighty prophecy for those who want the world to continue operating as usual. But for those neglected by an unfulfilled covenant, those who desperately need and long for the world to change, it comes as good news indeed. If we do not find ourselves in that position, can we open our hearts enough to empathize? Can we proclaim good news for someone other than ourselves? When the world skews toward injustice, will we see the line that shows it all off plumb?
In a world skewed toward injustice and hate, righteous God, help me embody the good news of Christ for those who need it most. Amen.
Amos is a farmer called by God to deliver a message to Jeroboam, the king of Israel (the Northern Kingdom in the divided monarchy). Because the king has not listened to the warnings from God, judgment will come. The psalmist also warns of judgment, in this case for those who oppress the weak and needy and fail to protect them from the wicked. Such heartless people will surely be brought low by God. The opening to the letter to the Colossians is a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and the spiritual fruit they are producing in the world. The parable in the Gospel reading challenges our human tendency to ignore need. Jesus teaches that mercy should overcome any reason we might find to harden our hearts.
Read Amos 7:7-17. Look for God’s plumb line in the world. In what ways is the ground you stand on askew?
Read Psalm 82. If you sit on the council of the Most High, how does this change your perspective on the world?
Read Colossians 1:1-14. Prayers of mere words are just the beginning of prayer. To what prayerful actions do your prayerful words call you?
Read Luke 10:25-37. The author writes, “Even those trying to be faithful walk askew.” Consider how you live out Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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