Archive for October 30th, 2019

Amos 1: Stepping into Newness

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Prophet Amos

Having had a bumpy week-end, I decided to spend extra reflection time with the bridge I felt rising from Leviticus.  I asked myself: To where does all of this conversion take us?  We know to whom we go . . . and usually how and why.  It is often the where that confounds us.  Today’s Noontime is from Amos, a prophecy of the first of the eighth century prophets (Amos is followed by Hosea, Isaiah and Micah).  This prophet comes away from his worldly work to follow God’s call to service and then returns to his fields, sycamore trees and herds to step back into his life.  Commentary points out that these words are direct and uncompromising” (Meeks 1356).  There is no doubting what we are to do – we are to tend to the laziness, avarice and corruption into which society always seems to sink.  There is no doubt about why we are to do this – it is the sanctity to which God calls each of us.  When we ask when we are to begin our conversion – the answer is always now; not later, not “when I have the time, energy or opportunity”.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  So what is the message we hear today?  Where are we to go to do this great work of self-conversion and kingdom building?  Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say.  Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat.  We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility.  They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  They are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.

The words of Amos in this first chapter are frightening; he can see the approaching whirlwind and so he sends out the watchman’s alert to tend to that which is dragging us down.

The images of Amos in this first chapter are full of violent pictures; he understands that the people have built thick walls behind which they can linger in comfort and so he urges us to change our ways.

The foreshadowed events which Amos shares in this first chapter are full of ugly pictures; he feels the coming maelstrom and so he calls us to conversion . . . to sanctity.

After spending time with the laws of Leviticus, we turn to Amos to find that these rules have been twisted and manipulated until they are nearly unrecognizable.  Amos calls the people to social justice and to religious humility.  We can see the need to tend to his message; we can see the places in our lives where we can be more just and humble.

When the earth quakes, when clouds roil, when the wind blows more stiffly and brings a different scent so that we know that change is coming . . . what do we do?  Do we retreat into old habits and easy answers?  Or do we step into the difficult newness that God offers?  This is something to spend time with today.  Looking forward, when we see difficult work ahead we can become easily exhausted and ask to have the cup of sacrifice pass away from us . . . or we can allow our weary selves to sink into the constant healing hands of Christ . . . and we can greet the storm with confidence in this . . . that we are loved by an awesome and fearless God . . . who will not let us fail.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.

Image from: http://calbyz.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

Written on October 5, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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