by Revd. Elizabeth Bussmann, Environment Officer for the Church of England Diocese in Europe
SUMMARY OF PREACHING THEME
AMOS a prophet for our times – especially in the West!
In Colossians 1: 21-23 we read: And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Christ has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—-PROVIDED THAT YOU CONTINUE securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.”
760 years before Christ, Amos’ message was also a warning. He saw how peace and prosperity encourage complacency and self-sufficiency, leading people to take God’s abundant generosity and goodness for granted.
Amos had and still has a message for Israel, for all the nations, for the church and for each individual.
Although he prophesies the fall and destruction of Israel, emphasizing that no one will escape what is coming, he also has a message of hope. The very fall of Israel will be a warning to the whole world for God has promised another Day of the Lord. A Day of the Lord still to come. God also promises that he will ‘raise up the booth of David’. This is a Messianic prophecy. It mentions very simply that God will rebuild the ‘fallen house’, restore the foundations which had been laid long ago. God will not ‘blot out what he had once built, and he will not surrender his claim upon the nations who ‘had been called by his name.’ Destruction is never the end of the story with God. In Amos 9.11-15 God promises hope by restoring a believing remnant of Israel. This remnant, together with believing Gentiles will one day be gathered like wheat to dwell in the Son’s earthly kingdom.
Response: Certainly through prayer but we are also called to be active in our Christian lifestyle. ‘Let justice roll down like a river, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream …’
We may not be directly involved in many of the injustices in society but we are very often involved indirectly. For example: where is our money ‘parked’ or invested. Do we know how ethical our savings are? How ethically our pensions are invested? Where does our food come from? How was it produced? Was it fairly produced? Who was involved? Animals are often ill-treated to provide us with cheap meat….Just a few examples! Websites such as Avaaz (firstname.lastname@example.org) Christian Concern (www.christianconcern.com) and SumOfUs (www.sumofus.org) are ways in which we can voice our concerns about many injustices. Last week’s Gospel reading was about the ‘Good Samaritan.’ Can we really sit back and say it is all too complicated, cross the road, avert our eyes and hurry on? Or are we called as followers of Christ, to stop and try to change things one small step at a time? Does what we proclaim with our lips show in our lives?
Old Testament reading / Psalm
Amos does not appear very often in the Lectionary – it is a very short book! That is why he is one of the so-called ‘Minor’ Prophets – not because they are less important than the others … Amos listened, probably in ‘stunned silence’ to God’s message that no one would escape from the coming calamity. Israel would once again face the true Yahweh, not the Yahweh of their sanctuaries and pilgrimages but a Yahweh they had neglected who was coming to do new things with his people. Amos’ mind must have been in a real turmoil as he went about amongst a people who had been condemned to death. But he began to see his environment with new eyes and he became acutely aware of the abuses around him. The charges God brought were pointing distinctly in two directions, contempt of God’s law and religious complacency. Pray that God will open our eyes, too!
New Testament reading
A brilliant summing up of God’s purposes through his Son Jesus Christ. Purposes for the whole of creation. ‘Through him (Christ) God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross.’ But see also the warning against complacency and apathy in verses 21-23!
The account of Mary and Martha. Jesus is not saying we shouldn’t bother with the housework, he is making the point that we should get our priorities right and not neglect our relationship with God. In our world it is so easy to be ‘busy’ all the time and not take enough time to be with God.
Further reading (books / websites / videos etc.)
The Hebrew Bible for Beginners – A Jewish and Christian Introduction by Kaminsky and Lohr in Abingdon Press
The Prophecy of Amos – A warning for today by Mathew Bartlett and Derek Williams published by Faithfuilders Publishing www.biblestudiesonline.org.uk
12 faith journeys of the minor prophets by Nathan Jones and Steve Howell published by Lamb and Lion ministries.
WORSHIP / LITURGICAL RESOURCES
Gathering & Penitence
New Patterns of Worship – Intercessions ‘For God in Creation’ F49 pg. 193
by Elizabeth Bussmann-Morton, Diocese in Europe (Church of England)