I have been thinking long and hard the past couple of weeks about Chapter 8 in the book of Amos in the Bible as I prepared to preach on the first twelve verses. The benefit of the lectionary is that it forces me to stretch myself by digging deeply into Biblical passages to which I might not otherwise pay much attention. That is also the challenge of preaching from the lectionary. Some texts are particularly daunting, and this one definitely qualifies for that title. Where do you find the good news of the Gospel in a rant about earthquake, flood and piles of dead bodies? More importantly where do you find good news in the prediction that there will be a famine of the word of God and that no matter how hard we seek that word, we “shall not find it.” I struggled with this one, but ultimately I found hope in Amos’ promise that God will hold us accountable for how we treat others. Like a good parent who enforces the family rules so we know where the boundaries lie, this passage assures us that God is who God says God is. God caring enough about us to enforce the family rules is a form of love—tough love—but love nonetheless. God expects us to care for others, especially those who are weak and vulnerable in our society: the poor, the disabled, the children, the aliens in our midst. And God will hold us accountable if we fail in that assignment. This is a God whom we can count on. Knowing we worship that kind of God is good news.
Grace and Peace,