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.
They don’t let pastors preach two sermons – and maybe that’s for the best. We can be long-winded people, especially when it comes to scripture. The thing is though, I like Amos words from this past Sunday. They are devoid of any candy coating – God is miffed. They are also relevant for our world today.
When we wonder, “Does God care for those freezing in the cold, or the runaway, or the trafficked human, or the hungry, or those facing violence?” – God gives his answer here. God wants righteousness and justice like Niagra and the Mississippi. God cares for the down-trodden and the oppressed and the lost. God has always cared for the down-trodden and the oppressed and the lost. From the time that Adam and Eve stepped off the path, to Cain who was protected by God with a mark, to Israel who found itself slaves, to all imperfect people freed from sin in Jesus, God cares about the down-trodden and the oppressed and the lost, including you.
And Israel had forgotten this. They forgot how God is the giver of food, and clothing – of all things really. They had forgotten that God had freed them from slavery and had given them bread in the desert so they could live – and told them to share.
Israel had forgotten God’s concern for all people.
And their worship reflected the hollowed-ness, as opposed to hallowedness, of their hearts. The congregation was gathered, burnt offerings were given, and music was offered – and God was miffed because all of it was offered without concern or care for neighbor.
The thing is, God wants more than burnt food and loud singing. God wants us to care about the condition of one another and to do something about it. Amos reminds us of that. To worship God is to remember and to retell and to give thanks to God for God’s saving acts through history. Worship also engages us to be a part of God saving acts for the present. This is what we are called to as God’s hallowed people. 😉