Gratitude Day 472
Mon., June 8, 2020
Amos 5:21-24 – “I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans, and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
These words from the prophet Amos are not for the faint of heart.
Amos was a prophet in the Old Testament. Prophets were folks who were designated by God to speak on behalf of God to the Israelite people. While the prophets were specifically chosen by God, the Israelites were not always very fond of them. Seriously. Who wants to hear about what you are doing wrong in your spiritual life?
This was the role of the prophet.
Biblical prophets were charged with trying to keep religion honest, humble, and compassionate. They were to laser in where injustice within religious institutions existed. Often cloaked in religious garb, they had x-ray vision which allowed them to discover hypocrisy, abuse of power, and overbearing authority. They looked beyond the impressive numbers, the far-reaching numbers, and/or thin pictures of success. They purposefully chose to listen to God a whole lot more than what women and men would say to try to impress them.
These poor guys often didn’t have many friends and few dinner invitations.
Our buddy for today, Amos, probably received even fewer of these special invites because he defended the downtrodden relentlessly. Upper class folks tired of his accusations, in which he called out the rich for justifying their sins in God’s name.
I love how The Message translation of the Bible often takes challenging lines of scripture and puts the words into language that we can easily relate to. Today’s section does this artfully. The provided examples are specifically the types of religious bickering we find in churches today. It’s almost like Amos saying to his contemporaries, “Get over yourselves!” Seriously. Stop fighting about the silly stuff and focus on what I think is MOST. IMPORTANT.
Justice. God wants oceans of it.
Fairness. May it run as abundantly as the rivers.
That’s ALL God wants.
Reading this passage again recently, I suddenly felt very humbled. Too often, as a pastor, I focused on getting the right program organized, coupled with smart marketing that would entice folks to participate. I’ve spent a lot of time picking out music that I liked … more so than consulting with God whether the music was what God desired for the service.
I’m afraid, Lord God, too often, I have failed you.
Maybe I didn’t fully understand, this is true. But maybe, I wasn’t asking the right questions. To the right people. At the right time.
Our country has hopped from one major crisis into another crisis that has been brewing for decades. Centuries. An awfully long time.
I thought I understood how folks who look different from me felt.
I think I’ve been wrong.
I know that I’ve been assuming that I knew too much.
Please take a few minutes. Watch this video. I’d love to hear your feelings and reactions. Maybe it will help us all understand just a bit more of what is causing so much reaction today. I pray it does.
For new ways of stretching myself and finding ways to grow, I am grateful.
Holy God – Help me hear. Help me listen. Help me see from another’s perspective. Help me reflect upon my attitudes and opinions. Speak to me. Today. Amen.
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