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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Free picture (Greed) from https://torange.biz/greed-16736

Amos 8:4-14

Against Greed

We find that it does not matter how much we humans advance in our understanding of our past, the science and nature that surround us, or the human condition in which we find ourselves . . . greed is our constant companion. We need only take a moment to look at ourselves, our families and friends to witness how greed works in a local way. And we have only to look at the international stage to see how greed functions in a global way.

God says: You need not shove against one another to scoop up or hoard food, materials for shelter or even love.  These life essentials are yours in abundance. When you begin to share you always find this is so. You need not cheat one another in the market place. I see who swindles and who is fair. You fool no one in the end for the truth always reveals herself. You need not struggle to make yourself look better than others or to criticize others to make yourself look better. I know each of intimately and so well that you can hide nothing from me. So put aside your fear. Put away your anxiety. Come to me openly and honestly. In the end, I am all there is. You need nothing more.

We ask ourselves these Lenten questions. In what way do I trample the needy and destroy the land of the poor? Do I use more than my share of natural resources? Do I waste the food or shelter or love that God bestows on me? Am I fair and honest in my interchanges with others? Do I correct mistakes made when I under-pay or over-charge? Do I try to hide part of myself from God? Am I open and honest about who I am? Do I acknowledge my fears and disquiet? Am I willing to believe that God is all I need?

Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach. Psalm 139:1-4

Let us spend some time today with the rest of Psalm 139 to determine how and where we might stand Against Greed. 


For an interesting read on the concept of greed, click on the image above or visit: https://fhctoday.com/27470/uncategorized/greed-being-a-disease/ 

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Balthasar Van der Ast: Still LIfe with Basket of Fruit

Amos 8:1-3

Vision of the Fruit Basket

The time is ripe to have done with my people . . .

Locusts and fire are turned away when the prophet pleads the case against destruction.  The plumb line measures behavior and this time Amos is silent except to record what he sees. Amos dares to engage with the corrupt priest, Amaziah.  And now he brings us a vision of the fruit basket, the symbol of a life lived justly, honestly and lovingly, without corruption or deceit.

God says: My prophet Amos served the people well. Many did not heed his words. They relied instead on their influence and wealth, not understanding that all of this passes away under my hand. Do they care for the poor, the orphan and the widow? They do not. They tend to their comfort and power base. Do they believe that the devastation Amos predicts will fall upon them? They do not. They are immune to his words, they believe that the world’s woes are not theirs; and they believe Amos’ visions to be false. Do they heed my words as brought to them by my faithful prophet? Again the answer is no. 

Rather than mercy from those whom God has blessed with power, we see exploitation and cunning.

Rather than love from those whom God has blessed with intelligence, we see narrow-mindedness.

Rather than compassion from those whom God has blessed with fruitful lives, we see greed.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider what visions we have been sent . . .  and how we respond to them.

Tomorrow, Against Greed.

 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Still_Life_with_Basket_of_Fruit_-_Balthasar_van_der_Ast_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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plumb bobSaturday, March 20, 2021

Amos 7:7-9

Vision of the Plummet

As a child I learned to use a plumb bob while helping my Dad lay the foundation for a new wing he was adding to our home. He taught us the importance of walls being plumb and angles being square.  he better the foundation, the better the building. Today, Amos describes the Lord, standing by a wall, holding up a plumb line. What does the Lord see?

God says: Each time you see that you are out of alignment, you need not panic. I hold up the plumb line that always accompanies you. It was established in the moment of your creation. You need not fear this simple measure for it measures you against your potential. When you listen for my voice, when you receive my message, you will find that you are as plumb and square as you need be. You will find that you are a good and sturdy foundation on which I can build my kingdom. When you become distant and turn away, the plumb line fades, and you waver. None of this is difficult to understand. The plummet is not really difficult to see. This measure is quite simple once you agree to look.

How and why are we to be measured? My Dad always assured us that when we measure ourselves against the potential God places in us, we need not worry. As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pause to reflect, to listen, and to open our eyes to the measure of the plummet.

Tomorrow, Amos and Amaziah . . . 


Enter the word Prudence into the blog search bar and explore. What does the virtue does Prudence dangle in her hand? 

For more on how to use a plumb line or a plumb bob, go to: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/495-the-plumb-bob/#.Ux93XF_D_IU

For more on interpreting this passage from Amos, go to: http://biblehub.com/amos/7-8.htm

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Amos 5:18-27

mourning_into_dancing_wide_t[1]Second Woe

Sakkuth and Kaiwan are ancient names for the planet Saturn and scholars believe that this pagan worship was a custom taken from the Assyrians. Israel turns away from the God who created her and turns toward little gods who have no power to save. Israel enters into cultic practices and leaves God’s love behind. Israel forfeits all that makes her special and chooses immediate and fleeting gratification.

God says: Even when you forget me for long years I will never forget who or where you are. Even when you put obstacles in my way I still accompany you. I continue to call you, I persist in waiting for you. You speak of disappointment and woe but I will turn these into dancing. You believe that you are alone and abandoned but I will never leave you. Despite of, or even because of, all that plagues and gnaws at you, turn and return to me.

The prophet Amos warns us today of the subtle ways in which we begin our journey away from all that converts our sorrow into joy.

O LORD, you brought me up from the grave you spared me from going down into the pit . . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Psalm 30)

Tomorrow, the third woe of Amos.


For more on Sakkuth and Kaiwan, go to: http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/?p=15 or https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/sakkuth-and-kaiwan

See TURN MY MOURNING INTO DANCING by Henri Nouwen as an excellent resource. Published in Nashville, TN by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2001.

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Prudence

Michael Whelan: Prudence

Amos 5:7-17

First Woe

You shall not live in the houses you fashion for yourself. You shall not drink of the wine from your vineyard. You have taken bribes and oppressed the just. Therefore, the prudent one is silent at this time.

Today Amos announces the first of three woes and he is quite clear about the consequences that will befall those who allow themselves to slide into corrupt and evil ways.

God says: You hear today about wailing and crying. This need not take place. You read about destruction and loss. This need not happen. You see images of evil against good. This need not be so. Put down your arms. Cease your self-defense. This is how we put an end to mourning and lament. Celebrate what is good in each of you. Cease judging. Praise what you find to be positive in both yourself and others and begin with that. The smallest ounce of goodness is ample space for me to gain a foothold in your heart. This woe is taken from your shoulders when you turn and return to me.

As we watch our evening news we see interviews with family members of those who have been murdered who choose diverging paths. Some want to exact revenge. Others are willing to forgive, knowing that revenge eats holes only in those who exact a price.

As we watch the evening news we see nations striking out at one another, seizing assets, prevaricating and stirring discord. We may think we gain anonymity when we hide in a crowd of millions or even billions and say nothing about injustice, and yet . . . God knows how willing we are to live in and for all that Christ teaches us.

Today we consider the images Amos brings to us, we examine our hearts and minds, and we consider . . .

Tomorrow, the second woe of Amos.


Michael Whelan images at: http://www.michaelwhelan.com/shop/reproductions/all-reproductions/prudence-2/

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Amos 5:1-9

Third Word

As Amos delivers his third and final word, he gives his listeners specific examples of the behavior and attitudes he warns against. Bethel, an important city in the days of Judges, became a chief sanctuary under Jeroboam I when he set up a golden calf. We know from excavations that the city was later destroyed by the AssyriansGilgal, was first visited by Joshua and the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan River. It was visited by the prophet Samuel and became a rallying point for Saul’s troops in their battles against the Philistines. It was in Gilgal that Saul was affirmed king, and it was from here that the kingship was taken away. This city of Elijah and Elisha becomes the site of a corrupt, sacrificial cult. The Beer-sheba plain was a place of ample winter pasturage and was suited for a semi-nomadic life and so it served as the principal homestead of Israel’s patriarchs. The city of Beer-sheba likely served as an administrative center during David’s monarchy; but the Negev was lost to the Edomites. Modern excavators have found evidence of cultic worship altars that were likely profaned during the reign of King Josiah who centralized worship in Jerusalem. (Achtemeier 111, 115-116, 379)

God says: The images of corruption need not frighten you; Amos only brings them into view because they are stark symbols of how far apart we might grow. And they are also reminders of how much I love my children. No chasm is too wide for me to cross in order that I might rescue you. No valley is too deep for me to plumb that I might redeem you. Bring your worries and fears to me – both big and little. And I will give you rest. This is the third word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

Amos presents these images as a window to a possibility the inhabitants of Bethel, Gilgal and Beer-sheba did not anticipate. Our loving God presents them as an opening to transformation.


Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 111, 115-116, 379. Print.

For more on Gilgal Refaim, click the image or go to: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread609169/pg1

For more on Amos 5, visit: http://biblehub.com/amos/5-5.htm

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Amos 4

Second Word

Amos delivers God’s word to the priests in Bethel for a year and when he is rejected he returns to his shepherding work. He speaks to the Israel nation about their lack of fidelity. And he reminds us of how we can turn back to God and the covenant once we discover that we have again fallen under the spell of the pagan gods of fame, money, influence and power. Amos reminds us that there is always redemption. Restoration is always possible.

God says: In this time of Lent I call you to examine your conscience and you perform this scrutiny well. You are aware of all that you do when you allow yourself to be honest. You know where and how to return to me when you allow yourself a bit of quiet and a dose of truth. So put your worries and fears aside for your renovation already lies within you. Your recovery from all that plagues you is already in your body, mind and soul. All that needs happen is that you note what you do, that you put aside your pagan gods, and that you turn and return to me. Uprightness lives in you through me. Do what you must to nourish the integrity that dwells in you. This is the Second Word that comes from me through my prophet Amos.

In our modern society we are not much different from our ancient ancestors despite our science and technology; the very real temptation to become Cows of Bashan is as keen and alluring today as it was millennia ago; yet we know that life is more than we see before us.  And so we still yearn for union.  We still seek wisdom and peace.  We are still vessels of the Spirit that creates us. God still dwells within . . . waiting to transform and rescue us.

Tomorrow, Third Word.


For information about Bashan, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/golanheights.htm

For another Noontime reflection on Amos 4:1-2, enter the words The Cows of Bashan into the blog search bar and explore.

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Monday, March 8, 2021

imagesCAIS5TV1baby feet in handsAmos 3

First Word

In 3:6, Amos states an important belief of ancient theologians, that God causes all events, even disasters. (Mays 650) In the light of the New Testament, we see God as a forgiving parent, a source of infinite compassion, a God who delivers justice, who pulls good out of harm, who loves us so dearly that he allows us to make decisions . . . even though they may have disastrous results.

God says: When humans first began to believe in my existence, they saw the world as a dual entity in which people, places, ideas and dreams were either good or bad. There was very little room for fringe thinking because life was so fragile and survival so difficult. Methods, practices and customs that helped the species to survive were regarded as sacrosanct. Your ancestors often shunned or even executed innovators and those who understood the wide and long view. You have evolved and now some of you understand what Jesus means when he speaks of the common good. You comprehend the importance of forgiving enemies.  And some of you live the life he models for you. I know that some among you still live with the words from ancient days. You scramble to make your world safe by performing practices with no heart. You believe that a checklist of good deeds saves you when it is really my loving care that restores what you have lost. Rather than lose patience with yourself or with any of these lost children, come to me. Call the fearful ones to me through your actions and words. Resist the temptation to believe that I bring about disaster for those who do not follow The Way. Believe that my heart is big enough to love the cruelest among you, persistent enough to convert the most heinous among you, and durable enough to outwait the most cruel and stubborn among you. The ivory apartments will be ruined through the actions of those who build them. The horns of the altar will break through the corruption the church leaders allow. And the many rooms of the wicked will be no more through the actions or inactions of their own lives. The wicked may escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of cot . . . but they will flee into my relentless, loving arms. This is my First Word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

When we become inpatient with God’s plan as it unfolds before our eyes and into our lives, we must remember this First Word that Amos brings to us today.

Tomorrow, Second Word.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 650. Print.

For an interesting post about being still to hear God’s word at www.hisinfinitegrace.com, click on the image above, or go to: http://hisinfinitegrace.com/2012/10/30/be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-2/

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Third Sunday of Lent, March 7, 2021

forgivenessAmos 2

Oracles

Moab, Judah, Israel. Oracles of condemnation not only of enemies . . . but of Israel herself. Atrocities during wartime, horrible scenes of brutality beyond understanding, humanitarian abuses, corruption in places that are meant to be havens. All of these images are difficult to read and even more difficult to comprehend.

God says: You are far too eager to look for scapegoats and for places to place blame for the woes of the world. What I really ask is that you put violence aside and deal with one another lovingly, even as enemies. What good comes from harboring anger? What fruit is born from bitter seed sown in despair? What peace to do you find by dragging your worries along with you each day. It is no wonder that the night brings you no rest. Spend time with me. Speak to me frankly, openly and honestly. Tell me what is bothering you.  Tell me what stirs you. Tell me when you are ready to surrender to me. I wait – for an eternity – with forgiving, open, strong and loving arms.

Even the smallest gesture of goodness is a light in the darkness. God pulls good out of all harm. We must be patient enough to see it, humble enough to feel it, and bold enough to share our stories of conversion with those who still live in the shadows. As we move through our Lenten journey, let us decide to move away from condemnation and toward mercy and kindness.

Tomorrow, First Word.


Image from: http://doctorjenn.com/wordpress/tag/forgiveness/

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