November 08, 2017
By Nicolette Siragusa.
Scripture: Amos 5:18-24 (NRSV)
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.
This passage of scripture pushes all my buttons.
It pokes my assumption that God’s justice will be like a light illuminating the shadows.
Amos says, “no, the day of the Lord will be darkness.”
When we are plunged from the blazing light of the sun, into the deep cool darkness, it takes our eyes time to adjust. Not so for God. God can see beauty in the hidden places, and invites us to imagine what we cannot see. Rather than flood the world with blinding light, the day of the Lord will draw us into the quiet darkness until our eyes adjust and we can see God’s vision for ourselves.
It pokes my assumption that God’s justice means safety.
Amos says, “no, the Day of the Lord is dangerous.”
Our world is not safe – we know there will be another storm, another shooting, another illness, another attack. Yet the chaos is familiar. In the creation story, God ordered the chaos, gave it boundaries, and something new emerged. We don’t know how we will fit in when God’s realm comes to be, and that feels dangerous.
It pokes my assumption that worship serves God.
Amos says, “no, God doesn’t want this.”
As someone who cares deeply about worship, I contemplate whether our worship is for God, or the folks in the pews, or the visitors at the door, or the people in the streets. We gather inside and outside of the church, in protest and in praise, offering prayers and songs and gifts – but do we do that which God truly wants from us?
All this – poking at my soft and tender places, calling me to consider ideas about God’s realm that challenge my assumptions – makes me wonder whether we mean it when we pray, ‘thy kingdom come.’
The God who works in the dark, whose day is dangerous, who critiques empty worship – uses prophets to push our buttons and provide us with a vision of what could be. Amos closes with a vision of justice flowing like water. Living water. Persistent water. Moving water reminds us that the work may be slow, sometimes so slow that we cannot see its effects, yet over time a flowing river will carve the Grand Canyon. When prophets call us to dark and dangerous and critical work, we are invited to be a part of justice rolling down and righteousness etching the landscape.
O God, thank you for prophets – especially when they challenge us. May your vision of hope guide us as we work towards a day that we can dimly see. Amen.
Rev. Nicolette Siragusa is the pastor of Bolton Congregational Church, UCC.
November 08, 2017