Archive for the ‘Amos 5’ Category

The Enduring Love and Justice of God   1 comment

Above:  Sheep

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FIRST READING (YEARS A AND C):  Isaiah 40:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Comfort my people; bring comfort to them,

says your God;

speak kindly to Jerusalem

and proclaim to her

that her term of bondage is served,

her penalty is paid;

for she has received at the LORD’s hand

double measure for all her sins.

A voice cries:

Clear a road through the wilderness for the LORD,

prepare a highway across the desert for our God.

Let every valley be raised,

every mountain and hill be brought low,

uneven ground be made smooth,

and steep places become level.

Then will the glory of the LORD be revealed

and all mankind together will see it.

The LORD himself has spoken.

A voice says,

Proclaim!

and I asked,

“What shall I proclaim?”

All mortals are like grass,

they last no longer than a wild flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the blast of the LORD blows on them.

Surely the people are grass!

The grass may wither, the flower fade,

but the word of our God will endure for ever.

Climb to a mountaintop,

you that bring good news to Zion;

raise your voice and shout aloud,

you that carry good news to Jerusalem,

raise it fearlessly;

say to the cities of Judah,

Your God is here!

Here is the Lord GOD; he is coming in might,

coming to rule with powerful arm.

His reward is with him,

his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he will tend his flock together;

he will carry the lambs in his bosom

and lead his ewes to water.

FIRST READING FOR YEAR B:  Amos 5:18-24 (Revised English Bible):

Woe betide those who long for the day of the LORD!

What will the day of the LORD mean for you?

It will be darkness, not light;

It will be as when someone runs from a lion,

only to be confronted by a bear,

or as when he enters his house

and leans with his hand on the wall,

only to be bitten by a snake.

The day of the LORD is indeed darkness, not light,

a day of gloom without a ray of brightness.

I spurn with loathing your pilgrim-feasts;

I take no pleasure in your sacred ceremonies.

When you bring me your whole-offerings and your grain-offerings

I shall not accept them,

nor pay head to your shared-offerings or stall-fed beasts.

Spare me the sound of your songs;

I shall not listen to the strumming of your lutes.

Instead let justice flow on like a river

and righteousness like a never-failing torrent.

PSALM FOR YEARS A AND C:  Psalm 96 (Revised English Bible):

Sing a new song to the LORD.

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD and bless his name;

day by day proclaim his victory.

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvellous deeds to every people.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

he is more to be feared than all gods.

For the gods of the nations are idols every one;

but the LORD made the heavens.

Majesty and splendour attend him,

might and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, you families of nations,

ascribe to the LORD glory and might;

ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts;

in holy attire worship the LORD;

tremble before him, all the earth.

Declare among the nations,

The LORD is King;

the world is established imovably;

he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,

let the sea resound and everything in it,

let the fields exult and all that is in them;

let all the trees of the forest shout for joy

before the LORD when he comes,

when he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice

and the peoples by his faithfulness.

PSALM FOR YEAR B:  Psalm 50:7-15 (Revised English Bible):

Listen, my people, and I shall speak;

I shall bear witness against you, Israel:

I am God, your God.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,

your whole offerings always before me;

I need take no young bull from your farmstead,

no he-goat from your folds;

for all the living creatures of the forest are mine

and the animals in their thousands on my hills.

I know every bird on those mountains;

the teeming life of the plains is my care.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and all that is in it are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and fulfill your vows to the Most High;

then if you call to me in time of trouble,

I shall come to your rescue, and you will honour me.

Matthew 18:12-14 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

What do you think?  Suppose someone has a hundred sheep, and one of them strays, does he not leave the other ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the one that strayed?  Truly I tell you:  if he should find it, he is more delighted over the sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In the same way, it is not your heavenly Father’s will that one of these little ones should be lost.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Divine judgment and mercy are two sides of one coin; one goes where the other does.  The Hebrew Scriptures  and the New Testament condemn economic and judicial injustice repeatedly.  So it follows naturally that divine mercy for the exploited entails judgment on the exploiters.  This is as matters should be.

So we read on this day of Advent about grazing animals–and not even the brightest crayons in that box.  We read that God desires righteousness and social justice, not the sacrifice of animals or grains, and that all these creatures are precious to God.  In fact, we have a parable in which Jesus likens us to lost sheep in great peril.  The shepherd will seek and locate such a sheep then rejoice.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, of course.  This is an unexpected analogy for a figure of exaltation, for shepherds were smelly and toward the bottom of the totem pole.  Furthermore, they depended on the sheep for their livelihood, much as the animals depended on the shepherds for their safety.  So, as I reflect on this parable, I conclude that it says that God needs us, just as we need God.  And, when I bring in the other readings, I see that God’s shepherding of us entails a degree of discipline–not for vindictive punishment, but for instruction.  Tough love requires some pain at times, but the alternative is worse for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tenth-day-of-advent/

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God, Injustice, Wealth, and Misplaced Attachments   1 comment

Above:  Front of the 1934 U.S. $100,000 Bill  (Worth $1,630,000 in 2010 Currency)

Images of U.S. banknotes are in the public domain.

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Job 23:1-9, 16-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then Job answered:

Today my complaint is bitter;

his hand is heavy despite my groaning.

Oh, that I knew where I might find him,

that I might come even to his dwelling!

I would lay my case before him,

and fill my mouth with arguments.

I would learn what he would answer me,

and understand what he would say to me.

Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?

No, but he would give heed to me.

There an upright person could reason with him,

and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.

God has made my heart faint;

the Almighty has terrified me;

If only I could vanish in darkness,

and thick darkness would cover my face!

Psalm 22:1-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

and are so far from my cry

and from the words of my distress?

2  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer;

by night as well, but I find no rest.

3  Yet you are the Holy One,

enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

4  Our forefathers put their trust in you;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

5  They cried out to you and were delivered;

they trusted in you and were not put to shame.

6  But as for me, I am a a worm and no man,

scorned by all and despised by the people.

7  All who see me laugh me to scorn;

they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,

8  ”He trusted in the LORD; let him deliver him;

let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”

9  Yet you are he who took me out of the womb,

and kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.

10  I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born;

you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.

11  Be not far from me, for trouble is near,

and there is none to help.

12  Many young bulls encircle me;

strong bulls of Bashan surround me.

13  They open wide their jaws at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

14  I am poured out like water;

all my bones are out of joint;

my heart within my breast is melting wax.

15  My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;

my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

and you have laid me in the dust of the grave.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Seek the LORD and live,

or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,

and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.

Ah, that you will turn justice to wormwood,

and bring righteousness to the ground!

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,

and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

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.

For I know how many are your transgressions,

and how great are your sins–

you who afflict the righteous, who takes a bribe,

and push aside the needy in the gate.

Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;

for it is an easy time.

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.

Psalm 90:12-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

12 So teach us to number our days

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.

SECOND READING

Hebrews 4:12-16 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the yes of him with whom have to do.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 10:17-31 (Revised English Bible):

As he was starting out on a journey, a stranger ran up, and, kneeling before him, asked,

Good Teacher, what must I do to win eternal life?

Jesus said to him,

Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; do not defraud; honour your father and your mother.’

He replied,

But Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a boy.

As Jesus looked at him, his heart warmed to him.

One thing you lack,

he said.

Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.

At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them,

How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

They were amazed that he should say this, but Jesus insisted.

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

They were more astonished than ever, and said to one another,

Then who can be saved?

Jesus looked at them and said,

For men it is impossible, but not for God; everything is possible for God.

Peter said,

What about us?  We have left everything to follow you.

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you:  there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The Collect:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Amos 5:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/week-of-proper-8-wednesday-year-2/

Hebrews 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/week-of-1-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

Mark 10:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/week-of-proper-3-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/week-of-proper-3-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/week-of-proper-3-monday-year-2/

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-2/

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/a-prayer-for-proper-priorities/

A Prayer for Humankind:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-for-humankind/

For the Right Use of Possessions:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-i/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-ii/

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Job sought God and, in Chapter 23, did not find him.  In the next chapter he complained about rampant injustice, a subject which also vexed the prophet Amos.  The rich man in Mark 10 also sought God, yet his attachment to his wealth got in the way.

Do not rely on your money and say, “This makes me sufficient.”

Do not yield to every impulse you can gratify

or follow the desires of your heart.

Do not say, “I have no master”;

the Lord, you may be sure, will call you to account.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 5:1-3, Revised English Bible

Both economic injustice and idolization of wealth are sins which go hand-in-hand.  Indeed, the idolization of wealth and one’s corresponding social status can lead to more economic injustice by way of Social Darwinism, which is an unfortunate and misleading label, for Darwin wrote about animal species, not human socio-economic status.  It is easier to cling to wealth in lieu of God when one has much money than when one is quite poor, but both the rich and the poor can cling to a great variety of false security blankets.

We–regardless of status–need to have just one security blanket.

As the author of Hebrews reminds us, we can

approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.–4:16, New Revised Standard Version

Our worthiness is in Christ, who died by an unjust act and was therefore acquainted with human inhumanity.  So, where is God in the midst of injustice?  God is in the midst of if with us, suffering with us.  God, who identifies and suffers with us, is our legitimate security blanket.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 2, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on November 2, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/proper-23-year-b/

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Reading and Pondering Amos, Part Three   1 comment

Above:  A Soup Kitchen

Image Source = Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_090806-N-6220J-004_Sailors_and_Navy_Delayed_Entry_Program_members_serve_breakfast_to_homeless_men_and_women_at_Dorothy%27s_Soup_Kitchen_in_Salinas,_Calif._during_Salinas_Navy_Week_community_service_event.jpg)

Loving One Another = Righteousness

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Amos 5:14-25 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Seek good and not evil,

That you may live,

And that the LORD, the God of Hosts,

And truly be with you,

As you think.

Hate evil and love good,

And establish justice in the gate;

Perhaps the LORD, the God of Hosts,

Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Assuredly,

Thus said the LORD,

My Lord, the God of Hosts:

In every square there shall be lamenting,

In every street cries of “Ah, woe!”

And the farm hand shall be

Called to mourn,

And those skilled in wailing

To lament;

For there shall be lamenting

In every vineyard, too,

When I pass through your midst

–said the LORD.

Ah, you who wish

For the day of the LORD!

Why do you want

The day of the LORD?

It shall be darkness, not light!–

And if a man should run from a lion

And be attacked by a bear;

Or if he got indoors,

Should lean his hand on the wall

And be bitten by a snake!

Surely the day of the LORD shall be

Not light, but darkness,

Blackest night without a glimmer.

I loathe, I spurn your festivals,

I am not appeased by your solemn assemblies.

If you offer Me burnt offerings–or your meal offerings–

I will not accept them;

I will pay no heed

To your gifts of fatlings.

Spare Me the sound of your hymns,

And let Me not hear the music of your lutes.

But let justice well up like water,

Righteousness like an unfailing stream.

Did you offer sacrifice and oblation to Me

Those forty years in the wilderness,

O House of Israel?

Psalm 50:7-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hear, O my people, and I will speak:

“O Israel, I will bear witness against you;

for I am God, your God.

8 I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices;

your offerings are always before me.

9 I will take no bull-calf from your stalls,

nor he goats out of your pens;

10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine,

the herds in their thousands upon the hills.

11 I know every bird in the sky,

and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.

13 Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,

or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and make good your vows to the Most High.

15 Call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.

Matthew 8:28-34 (An American Translation):

When he [Jesus] reached the other side, in the region of Gadara, two men possessed by demons came out of the tombs and confronted him; they were so extremely violent that nobody could go along that road.  And they suddenly screamed out,

What so you want of us, you Son of God?  Have you come here before the appointed time to torture us?

Now at some distance from them there was a great drove of pigs feeding.  And the demons entreated him, saying,

If you are going to drive us out, send us into the drove of pigs.

And he said to them,

Begone!

And they came out and went into the pigs.  And suddenly the whole drove rushed over the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the water.  And the men who tended them ran away and went off to the town and told it all, and the news about the men possessed by demons.  And the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to go away from their district.

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:  Grant to us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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God cares deeply about how we treat each other.  This theological point recurs throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It is especially prominent in Amos, whee we read condemnations of economic injustice and judicial corruption.  Today we read in Amos to participate in or condone such sin then to appear holy by taking part in religious ceremonies offends God.  Few offenses rankle more than hypocrisy.

For more on our topic, loving one another equals righteousness, shall we turn to the reading from Matthew? The text identifies the two men whom Jesus healed as demoniacs.  The diagnosis of demon possession was commonplace in Hellenistic times.  Today we would say emotional distress or mental illness or epilepsy or multiple personalities, et cetera.  The story tells us that, whatever afflicted these men, Jesus healed them of it, and some pigs died in the process.  Certainly some of the people who asked our Lord to leave had lost wealth in the porcine rush to die.  Others, however, were probably unnerved by the new state of wholeness the two men exhibited.  These villagers knew who they were; they were not those two demoniacs.  But now, with the demoniacs healed, who were the villagers in relation to them?

Often we define ourselves by what or who we are not.  We might think of ourselves as among the pure, but then others must be impure for this definition of purity to work.  It is better to define ourselves as who and what we are–bearers of the divine image–allegedly pure and impure alike–and all of us  are people who need grace.  We are also people who ought to administer this grace to each other, bear one another’s burdens, weep with each other, laugh with each other, help each other, rejoice in each other’s good fortune, and seek the common good.

This is righteousness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BAYARD RUSTIN, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/week-of-proper-8-wednesday-year-2/

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