Bringing The Nation Home
Amos 5: 11-15
11 Therefore, because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.
14 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.
15 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.
Today we move to reflect upon worship from the perspective of one of the Old Testament prophets, Amos. He lived about ten miles south of Jerusalem. He was not one of the professionally trained prophets from the School of Prophets. He describes himself as a simple farmer. Like King David he had a love of the Law and he allowed this love to shape his ethics. As in Psalm 24 so Amos finds himself in awe of the God of creation and justice. He finds himself challenging the political power of the neighbouring kingdom. He does so from a deeper understanding of the wider implications of injustice, because it affects all the surrounding nations.
Israel, the northern kingdom, had grown prosperous at the expense of a weakened Syria. This prosperity had brought with it customs that no longer defended the rights of the poor. Israel and its leaders had grown rich in wealth while the poor, those who worked the land, found themselves struggling to survive. It is because of this lack of Justice that Amos prophesies: the God who created the land and the sea also controls history, he is also the champion of social justice. When the time is right he steps in and restrains the offenders and raises up another nation. Amos proclaims God is the judge of the nations.
Today we are invited to consider the way we vote and what needs to change in order that social equity engages all our political thinking. The journey back home to God as a nation is never easy.
God of the Nations,
Turn our hearts from self interest
To consider the interests of others
Turn us away from self love
And nationalism that is insular
Expand our hearts and minds
To love You more
Let compassion well up within us
Direct our hands and feet
Turn our eyes to look upon the poor and needy
Show us how we can love our neighbours
And in doing so fulfil your Laws of Justice and Grace