It’s confession time. I have too much stuff. I have things to organize my stuff. This Christmas, I will get more stuff…and hopefully a few things to fix some of the things I received in previous years. The prophets, including Amos, do not look too kindly on those who have stuff. Especially those who have stuff at the expense of others. Even more so against so called “religious” people who have stuff at the expense of others. This is the message of the prophets. They were concerned (because God is concerned) about the poor, the outcast, and the down-trodden. The prophets spoke out about injustice and longed for the day when God would send the Messiah to redeem, reconcile, and restore humanity and all of creation.
In Amos 6:1-14, the prophet speaks prophetically against the wealthy, the rich, those whose money and possessions allow them to detach themselves from the plight of their neighbors. They have ivory inlaid beds, feast on the finest lamb chops and filet mignon, enjoy fine music while tasting the countries best wine, and have access to perfume and cologne to make themselves smell better. The problem that the prophets have, and God, is that the wealthy ignore the evil of their day and do not grieve the ruin of Joseph. They have become caught up in the pursuit and enjoyment of possessions while ignoring their neighbors.
Our feasting season is already in full swing as we have dined on turkey and every kind of leftovers we can make from them. We will have cookies, cakes, pies, hams, and turkeys- and we’ll likely give and receive gifts. While none of that is, on its own, sinful, the question that Amos might ask us is this: “What are we doing about the evil of our day?” “Are we pursuing justice for our neighbors, widows, and orphans?” “Do we seek economic justice for those impacted by corporate greed?” In the words of Jesus- “Do we love our neighbor like we love ourselves?”
The Christmas season may seem like a strange time to talk about justice, but in reality it is the perfect time. God sent Jesus, as a baby in a manger two thousand years ago to redeem, reconcile, and restore creation through his life, death, and resurrection. As Christians, we are to pick up where Jesus left off. This Christmas, how will you bring justice, reconciliation, redemption, and restoration to the poor, the lonely, the oppressed, the hungry, the sick, the lame, the fatherless, and the widow? Your acts of love and mercy might just be the best Christmas gift yet!
Today’s Readings – Psalm 148-150, 114, 115, Amos 6:1-14, 2 Thess 1:5-12, Luke 1:57-68
Steve LaMotte is the pastor of Hope UMC in Dover, Del., and has served as a dean, speaker and several other capacities at camp.