Scripture: Amos 5:1-17
Key verse: (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.
Reflection: The cashier at the grocery store asks if I want to round up my bill to give thirty-seven cents to a charity. Outside the door, there is a Salvation Army bell ringer with a familiar red bucket. In the lobby of the office building, there is an “angel tree” with gift tags to buy things for children in our community. ‘Tis the season. Charitable giving reaches a peak this month as the giving spirit of the holiday collides with the last month of the tax year.
In our Advent waiting we find ourselves again and again listening to the words of the Old Testament prophets. In today’s passage Amos laments the sin of God’s people and calls for them to repent and seek God. They have trampled on the poor and taken from them “levies of grain,” requiring them to pay a portion of their crops for taxes or in bribes. The prophet warns that God’s people will face consequences for their treatment of the poor. They won’t be able to use the houses they’ve built or the vineyards they’ve planted.
Do we believe that we will face consequences for how we treat the poor? It might be easy to assume that we can protect ourselves from consequences. The prophet warns that, even if everything appears to be going well, there are still consequences ahead. Amos calls us to examine ourselves and our lives, asking ourselves how the choices we make impact others. Are we trampling the poor, perhaps without even realizing it? Are we taking advantage of unfair opportunities? How can we lift up rather than trample? I doubt this is as simple as the few cents given to a charity or the gift bought for a child. This is a call to think about our lifestyles – the houses we live in, the cars we drive, where we shop, how we spend our time, where we vacation – and ask how we might love our neighbors in those choices. The prophet is ringing a bell for us today, ringing “Wake up, pay attention, look carefully and seek God’s way.”
Prayer: O God, give me courage to ask myself difficult questions about my lifestyle. Give me strength to change the things that need to be changed so that I can love my neighbors who are poor. Give me wisdom to live in your way in the world. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].