Amos and injustice

Today I am making the “bold move” and not preaching on the Gospel text.  Rather I am preaching on Amos.  I don’t think I have ever done that before, but I am looking forward to it.  I think the reason Amos caught my attention this week was the fact that we served at The Banquet (I’ll write more about this experience later) a couple days ago and then I read Amos talking about injustice.  2 + 2 were put together and the answer came back…preach on Amos.  So that is what I am doing.

One of the questions I hear being asked is:  What does God want? The answer comes in verse 24 of Amos 5 where God says through Amos, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”  I think we miss way too many injustices that go on around us.  We get so focused on doing what we think is so supremely important that we can’t see those who truly need to experience God’s love through us.  We try to let ourselves off the hook by falling for Satan’s excuse that injustices only happen in poor countries thousands of miles away and that there is nothing we can do about it.  Well…that’s not true.  We can do something about it AND injustices don’t just happen across the sea…they happen in our own backyard.  It’s funny…we can see injustices in Africa and Central America, but we can’t see them in our own communities.

I think we need to read Amos more often and listen to this prophet speak to us right now…here in this place so we can “…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Have a very blessed day with our eyes wide open.  Amen

-edh-

5 thoughts on “Amos and injustice

  1. As for the “bold move” to preach on the OT reading . . . I often dwell on the OT text or the Epistle in my preaching, sometimes preaching exclusively on one of those texts. And why not? The Gospel text was proclaimed, and the Living Word is present – of course! – in the other readings, in the act of proclamation, and in the celebration of the liturgy itself. Though it should be at the top of our list, I don’t think that preaching on the Gospel text needs to be a hard-and-fast absolute rule of preaching.

    I once did a first-person sermon as Naaman from 2 Kings 5 . . . few stories capture the grace and love of God better than the healing of Naaman.

  2. Pastor Eric,

    For anyone who thinks that, as you said, “injustices only happen in poor countries thousands of miles away and that there is nothing we can do about it,” I highly recommend the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. I read that book this summer, and it has totally changed my view of the world as well as my ministry here in Alaska.

    After I read the book, I began to see areas of need that I could fill in my own community. The changes I have made are small so far, but I see them having a bigger and bigger impact as I am learning to see the world with God’s eyes. We *CAN* make a difference, and if we truly want to be the reflection of Christ in this world, we *MUST* do the work that God has called us to do.

    Now, I think perhaps I should go read Amos — your post has inspired me 🙂

  3. Part of the Amos text stood out to me, the part about the liturgies and sacrifices not being acceptable. We Lutherans often make a big deal about the form, as well as the content, of our services. Liturgy can be rich and meaningful or it can be empty repetition. It depends on the participant. I know that God honors our attempts at worship when we are sincere. The Amos text points out that our actions need to be as sincere as our words.

    In the few years I’ve been blogging, I’ve occasionally wondered into the blogs of Lutherans of a different stripe. In fact, I think that there are more of these striped Lutheran bloggers than those of our non-striped variety. You get my drift. Unfortunately, it turns out that expressing my opinion, my experiences, especially as a lay woman, consistently results in a rebuke. I’ve found it hurtful, so hurtful that I’ve talked to my pastor about this. These same blogs often extol the virtues of specific liturgies and hymns, all others resulting in less than “true” worship. I’ve had the gall to question what I’ve taken as judgementalness in these blogs. I’ve been told that Christians are to be judgmental and specific verses have been cited about our duty is to point out errors in others.

    I refuse to believe that the striped Lutherans are all so unloving, but I’ve never come across that attitude among the unstriped Lutheran bloggers.

  4. Chris — I agree with you, but I know some hard core Lutheran seminary professors that would say “preach on the Gospel text”. For me the Gospel text probably gets preached on ~75% (give or take a couple percent) of the time. I think we need to spend more time in scripture that often gets overlooked by people. Hence…preach on Amos.

    Mike — Thanks for the book suggestion. Another one to add to my list.

    P.S. — I hear you. That is the reason I try to mix things up. I will use different confession liturgies to force people to think about the words. Liturgy is a tool to help people worship. Liturgy is not to be worshiped itself.

  5. I thought about doing this, but we had already decided on a 3 part series with these three parables from Matthew. I think we need to hear Amos’ words especially now, and btw, I really like your wife Connie’s interpretation, too.

    btw, I think that REALLY hard core Lutheran profs would say, “Preach the gospel,” but I hope that they don’t mean, “Preach the gospel TEXT.”

    just my humble opinion.

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