Tonight we had our Education for Ministry group at St Aidan’s. It’s a real blessing for me on my journey. Great Bible study, great theological reflection, great sharing with one another about our respective journeys. Tonight we were looking at Amos and Hosea. To Prophets who with great metaphorical prowess cry to the people to end the injustice and hypocrisy and stand with the poor and the needy.
One of the passages we looked at tonight is comes from Amos 5
Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;
as if someone fled from a lion,
and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
and was bitten by a snake.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
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 ever-flowing stream.
Amos makes no bones about the self righteous. You people who say you are ready for the Lord’s day… brace yourself! It’s like running from a lion to be embraced by the mouth of a bear. In this passage Amos declares that the people have been focused on that which is not about life and light, but advances more injustice with lack of action. The second paragraph strikes us clear between the eyes. Busy with sacrifice, burnt offerings, religious festivals, and fanciful music? STICK IT! People are still suffering.
The Message paraphrases this reading as:
“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.
God wants rivers if fairness! God calls us to put aside our pride and sing to him/her! How often do we do that? God is tired of our image making, our slogans and goals, our fund-raising schemes… ouch! It hurts. But there is truth there.
Hosea puts it this way in Chapter 6:
I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God instead of entirely burned offerings.
I minster in a community that counts on people coming, participating, engaging our religious offerings. But the truth is that if we forget that what God desires of us is steadfast love, love for God and love for neighbour, than thetre is little that separates us from the next club.
God is yearning for oceans of justice and rivers of fairness. How might we be attentive to what God wants?