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Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24, Amos: Justice Rolls Down

Sunday, November 12

A World to Dream For

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Does God really despise our festivals and solemn assemblies? No, this is not what Amos was trying to say. The people of Israel had focused all their energy on the show of worship without actually living the tenets of faith. They were more concerned with their rituals, their sacrifices, and their gatherings than for justice, peace, and love. Worship without the work of justice and peace is empty, and God would have none of it.

Currently I’m re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 with my high schooler. One of the things that’s fascinating me with this dystopian mural is how very empty the life of the protagonist Winston Smith seems. In the party’s attempt to make everything perfect, there has been a fundamental loss of the spark of life. Perfection is an illusion; the lies and doublethink fog the truth so that Winston does not even believe his own memory.

As I watch TV, surf the net, and scroll through my social media, I am struck by the tension between the perfect life many desire and the reality of the struggles we all face. On the one hand, there are images of sunny beaches on expensive vacations, the nervous smiles and hopeful expectations of prom photos, baby’s first Instagram, and homes flipped from condemned to luxurious in the blink of an eye. On the other hand, I also see images of drug addicts passed out in their car with their toddler in the back seat, black men killed by police officers, children covered in blood in war-torn Syria. There is a tension between the perfection we desire and the messiness of real life.

God knows this is our reality. God knows that our world is broken, that justice is fleeting, that peace is elusive. God also knows that we need our rituals, our worship, our music, our words of wisdom to give us hope that life can be more – more just, more peaceful, more loving. It is not our rituals that God despises, it is the giving up of the hope that we can contribute to making this world more like the world God intended – God’s reign on earth.

So, go ahead and dance your dances, post photos of your princesses online, sing your songs. But then go out and fight for justice. Fight for peace. And love unconditionally.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and in the days of King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake.And he said: The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds wither, and the top of Carmel dries up. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.