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Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021

MADAME~1

Christopher Turner: On the Couch

 Amos 6

The Cost of Prosperity

Before we leave Amos we reflect once more on his theme of the wealthy and comfortable taking advantage of the poor and voiceless. Like his contemporaries Hosea and Joel, Amos spoke out against those who lay upon couches plotting to keep what they had gathered rather than share their prosperity. He brought to light the corruption too often found in those who hoard possessions and power rather than tend to those on the margins who have few or no resources.

Amos spoke so well and so boldly that he was finally expelled by Amaziah, the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary. His delineation of “hollow prosperity” was too much for the power structure and rather than spend time with the prophet’s words, leadership chose to shut down this man who gave their work a “sweeping indictment” of the injustice and idolatry Amos saw everywhere. The prophet is known for his fiery words but also his offering of a messianic perspective of hope. He knows that “divine punishment is never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men. The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God”. (Senior 1126)

As we read these verses today, we might think of a time when either we too lay upon couches at the expense of others or we were those laboring within a corrupt system. In the modern world, some of us have a the freedom to express our views in the public arena. Sometimes this voice is small, sometimes it carries weight; but no matter the strength of our words we know that when we stand in God’s plan all will be well. All will right itself.

Today’s reading is full of Old Testament ire; yet we can bring our New Testament eyes and ears to this story to put it into context. When we find ourselves in our own Samaria or northern Kingdom, when we see corruption in our holy Bethel city, when our prophets preach caution to a power structure carried away with its own authority, we might pause to remember what Amos tells us: Woe to the complacent, leaders of a favored nation, lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches . . . they devise their own accompaniment.

On this day when we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper, we examine ourselves, our motives, our hopes and desires. We evaluate where and how and why we stand; and we look at those with whom we choose to spend time on idle couches.

When we find ourselves unsatisfied with all we see around us, or when we are content with only our own accompaniment, perhaps it is a warning that we need to look to ourselves and to our companions. Perhaps, on this holy day of celebrated sacrifice, it is time for us to consider the cost of our prosperity.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 7, 2009.

Tomorrow, Unlimited Mercy.

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Holy Wednesday, March 31, 2021

good and faithful servantAmos 7-9

A Prayer for Faithful Servants

The prophet Amos has accompanied us on our Lenten journey over these past several weeks to bring us the Words of God, to force us to look at the Woes of the world, and to show us stark warnings through his Visions for the future.

Amos is often described as the angry prophet with no tolerance for the corrupt rich who subjugate the poor. This will also be our impression of him if we do not linger with the last images of his prophecy. We will miss the gift Amos brings to us if we do not stay for a while with these ending verses in which we see the beauty of Amos unfold, for it is in these final chapters that we experience his Messianic perspective and promise. It is here in the last pages of Amos’ prophecy that we understand the stories in the New Testament, and fully come to terms with what it means to be faithful servants of God.

And so we pray.

When we feel unimportant and are dwarfed by the colossal forces around us, we petition God as we say with Amos: How can we stand? We are so small!

And God replies: What do you see?

We remember the many times God has rescued us from sure destruction, and we reply: Evil will not reach or overtake us.

And God replies: I will raise you up!

We recall the occasions when only God was able to pull us together after we have been so battered that we can not imagine how we will ever be whole again, and together we ask: Will you wall up our breaches?

And God replies: I will raise your ruins!

We feel frustration and fear when we see all the good that we have built begin to crumble, and so together we ask: Will you rebuild us as in days of old?

And God replies: I will bring about your restoration!

We remember all the work we have done to build your Kingdom. We look into the future and fear for the work yet to be completed, and so together we ask: Who will rebuild and inhabit our ruined cities? Who will plant vineyards and drink the wine? Who will set out gardens and eat the fruits?

And God replies: I will plant you upon your own ground; never again shall you be plucked from the land I have given you. This is my promise. I have spoken. I am the Lord, your God.

And we reply: We who struggle to be your faithful servants thank you. We who strive to follow in the steps of Jesus rely on you alone. We who long to always live in the Spirit look to you for guidance as we say, Amen!

And God replies: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  (Matthew 25:21)


To purchase the plaque above, click on the image.

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Holy Tuesday, March 30, 2021

200px-Prophet_Amos_002Amos 7

God’s Servants

Through a series of visions Amos leads us to his central message: we must respond to God’s call to correct the social injustice we see around us. In Chapter 7 we see the core of Amos’ message through a series of visions but it is perhaps his personality that moves us more than the images he describes. Amos displays characteristics we see in Jesus, and these are the same tools we must nurture so that we might be faithful servants of God’s Word: frankness, brevity, an insistence to stay “on message” despite the chastisement and threats received from a corrupt civil, social or religious structure.

Amos refuses to hire himself out, as other prophets do. He resists the urge to say more than Yahweh has told him. He speaks, takes no credit or blame, remains faithful and tenacious, then stands down when his work of prophecy is complete, returning to the productive life he had lived before he stepped into history.

We are each called to be Amos. We are each called to speak in witness to what we know to be truth and light. We each live in the providential care of God. We each have the power of speech and spirit. We each must intercede for our family, friends and enemies – just as Amos does. And then we may return to our work, living the Gospel we know to be true until we are called again by God.

Life lived in this manner becomes less complicated, less frightening, more fulfilling, and more peaceful. Life lived in this manner – even in the midst of painful abuse and dire extremes – is seen as beautiful and serene. Life lived as Amos shows us is life in its proper alignment – we become good and faithful servants doing the work of God. As humble and honest workers, we demonstrate our understanding that God is in charge, that God’s plan will not be thwarted, that God can be trusted to turn all acts of malicious damage into acts of saving love.

This then is the lesson of Amos: Speak when we know we must, listen for the Word always, step forward when called and back when the time for speaking has ended. Act always in God and through God. Remain always God’s willing servant who brings a full and open heart to each day. Trust God . . . and stay out of God’s way. 


Tomorrow, a Prayer for Faithful Servants.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2008.

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Friday, March 5, 2021

Amos 1:1

shepherd-sheep-10[1]

Insight

The words of Amos, a shepherd from Tekoa . . .

When we struggle to understand prophecy it helps to consult commentary and footnotes. It also helps to keep our ears and eyes and hearts ready and open.

God says: Rather than viewing an obstacle as a barrier . . . try to see it as a stepping stone to a new perspective.   Rather than fearing accountability . . . try to see it as a way to draw closer to me. Rather than holding yourselves above or away others . . . try to serve the poorest, the lowest, the humblest of my children. Rather than assuming that prophets live only in the past . . . try to see yourself as one who conveys my Word to others faithfully. Amos shows you all of these insights . . . if you will spend some time with him today.

We develop solid insights when we spend time with God. We inspire insight in others when we follow Christ. We bring healing insight to the suffering when we live in the Spirit.


Read the Amos-Accountability page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/amos-accountability/ and then consider the insights Amos brings to us today.

Image from: http://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/leading-and-equipping-shepherd-and-sheep-2/

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

will-religion-become-a-thing-of-the-past.jpg.crop_display[1]The Book of Amos

Responsibility

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent came to us last week and in preparation we wandered through our valleys of dry bones and we have examined both the exterior and interior law.  Yesterday we reflected on social justice and how the human race strives – or does not strive – to match our words with our deeds.  Today we look at a brief, but powerful, prophecy. Amos brings us words we can easily use today.

So let us take on the responsibility of living a life of integrity as we look at these verses to ask ourselves . . .

How do we resist the corruption we nearly always find in powerful and influential forces?

How do we balance our day-to-day reality with the call of the Gospel?

How do we advocate for those who have no voice?

God says: I have sent to you a prophet who has much to offer you. I have given you the courage and zeal to explore his prophecy. And I have bestowed on you the love and compassion you will need to act on his words that come from me. Do you have the determination to explore my Word that arrives through Amos? Do you love me in such a way that you will put aside a few minutes for me each day to study my word? Do you believe that you too are one of my valued prophets?

God gives us many Biblical figures with whom we might journey as we seek to know ourselves, our God, and others better during this Lenten tide.

Tomorrow, the insight of Amos.


To learn more about the exceptional person Amos, read the articles from Britannica online at:  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos and http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21365/Book-of-Amos

Consider the questions below and reflect on what insights Amos might bring to us.

  1. When did Amos write and what did he have to say to the political and social leaders of his time?
  2. Did Amos travel or did he remain in the town of Tekoa where he was born?
  3. Did Amos write his prophecy on his own and who was his audience?
  4. What did Amos predict?
  5. What did Amos believe?
  6. Do we see any similarities between the world of Amos and our own?
  7. What does Amos have to say to us today?

Image from: http://www.ucg.org/commentary/will-religion-become-thing-past/

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Seventh Day of Christmas

Zechariah 8:6

Within Jerusalem

Gerrit van Honthorst: Adoration of the Christ Child

Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it be impossible in my eyes also?  I will rescue my people . . . and I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.   

The faithful have seen great destruction; we have suffered much and long. The remnant hears an impossible pronouncement; we cannot believe what we hear.  God comes to rescue and save not as a warrior but as a child. And this child becomes the new Jerusalem.

We long to be safe inside the city walls, and yet we are already there . . . within Jerusalem, in this child, in Christ. For Christ this day is in us.

Enter the words possible or impossible into the blog search bar and explore what it means to be Christmas people.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adoration_of_the_Christ_Child_(Honthorst)

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Wednesday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Malachi 3:19-20 (4:1-2)

The Day is Here

Matthais Stom (Stomer): The Adoration of the Shepherds

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble . . . But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

A child born in quiet dignity.  A world waiting to be saved. God humbles the proud with the smallness of this child. God heals the wounded with the power of this child. God rescues all with the compassion of this child. The long-awaited day of wonder and promise is here. All of this we know, for we are Christmas people.

Enter the word justice in the blog search bar, or visit the pages about the prophet Malachi, and consider what we know and believe as Christmas people.


Differing translations of Scripture have differing numbering systems for this prophecy.  

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_Matthias_Stom_(Stomer)_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Fifth Day of Christmas

zephaniah-3-17[1]Zephaniah 3:15-18

Among Us

The Lord, your God, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear . . . The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Misfortune becomes blessing. Sorrow becomes gladness. Fear becomes joy.  One who renews his vow to rescue us is in our midst. And he is filled with joy at this union.

Read the Zephaniah – God’s Balance page on this blog and think about God’s promise to be with us always.

Enter the words In Our Midst in the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on how we know that God is among us . . . and consider why we are Christmas people.


Image from: http://heisourstrongtower.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/jesus-calling-august-30th/zephaniah-3-17/

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Monday, December 28, 2020

The Fourth Day of Christmas

shoots from a stumpJeremiah 23:5

A Righteous Shoot

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.  

We have the justice that we long for. We have the wisdom we seek. The long-awaited day is here, for we are Christmas people.

Read Isaiah 11:1-10 and Revelation 22:16 .  Reflect on God’s promises kept.  Think about the times when disappointment and loss have resulted in transformation and celebration.

Enter the word justice into the blog search bar and consider how we are Christmas people.


Image from: http://pastorjonmarxy.wordpress.com/

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