Reading Amos 5: 21-24 (NRSV)
Biblical prophets are megaphones to help cut through people’s complacency and hear God’s voice.
In today’s reading, notice the extreme phrases the prophet attributes to God:
I hate, I despise…. I take no delight…. I will not accept…. I will not look upon…. Take away from me…. I will not listen….
But God instructed people to hold these festivals! Scripture prescribes these burnt offerings, songs, and melodies as part of worship! Why, then, should God despise them?
Perhaps people have forgotten the purpose behind the ceremony. They substitute media-worthy display for living right with God. They follow rules or tradition but neglect to help each other. They complacently believe they are right and plug their ears to contrary evidence.
Perhaps the phrases indicating God’s aversion are hyperbole: exaggerated to emphasize how much God really wants the alternative:
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.”
Compared to how much God wants justice and righteousness, ceremonious worship rates far down in priority.
And worship is meaningless if we plug our ears to the voice of the one we worship!
Hear God’s voice. Let justice and righteousness flow like waters.
Let us pray. O, Just and Righteous God, thank you for setting justice and righteousness as our top priorities for living right with you. Your priorities assure us that all of your people have equal worth. Help us to show our neighbors the steadfast love you have for them. Amen.