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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 17, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Amos 8:1–12

This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!”

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. (NRSV)

This morning, my son and I had some words about something I had asked him to do that hadn’t gotten done. It’s developing into a pattern, avoiding this chore, and it was time to have a conversation about making sure this particular thing does happen. In response, he said that I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, and I pointed out that not doing this thing was getting in the way of interacting on other levels.

Then I realized that we were playing out in our kitchen exactly what the Lord was saying through Amos. God had given the Israelites guidelines for how he wanted them to act. The Israelites, however, were more interested in their own agenda than in worshiping him. Their desire to make money outweighed any desire to follow God’s laws or care for God’s other created beings. And that was creating a barrier to them hearing God on any kind of level. As with any parent, God is trying to get their attention any way he can.

I didn’t threaten my son with the level of catastrophe that God predicted for the Israelites, but I did tell him that not doing what I asked was getting in the way of our relationship in other ways. At the same time, I told him I would continue to reach out to him, whether or not I’m happy with his level of engagement. Both of us looking at the relationship and taking responsibility opens up possibilities for us to grow into a better relationship. Likewise, I need to look at my relationship with God, to make sure I am truly worshiping God and paying attention to God’s word so that relationship can deepen as well. Because I love my son. And I love God. And there’s really nothing more important than that.

Lord God, help me to make sure my actions do not get in the way of my relationship with you. And help me to see and accept the ways you continue to reach out to me; in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Written by Lisa Stracks, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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