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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, September 21, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Amos 8:4–7

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. (NRSV)

“Hear this” reminds me a lot of when my mom used to call to me whenever she wanted to talk about how my room wasn’t up to her tidiness standards. The uneasiness and guilt I would feel after those conversations are what I feel after reading this passage.

In this case, Amos chides those who have trampled on the needy, brought ruin to the poor of the land, and who have been deceitful in matters of business by making the measures of wheat small but the cost great. In short, they’ve not acted justly and with compassion, and God doesn’t seem happy about it.

It would be so much easier to disregard this reading by saying, “Surely I do not do such terrible things. This does not apply to me.” But it’s not that simple. Every day, I participate in systems of oppression that are hurtful and unjust, even if I don’t realize what I am doing. It’s not something that’s easy for me to admit, and I feel uneasy and guilty about it.

By the grace of God, I don’t have to stay stagnant in those feelings. By the grace of God, I am empowered to acknowledge that I can do better and to do so. My mom always knew that I could, and God knows that I can. Supported by others who share the same task “to do justice, love kindness,” and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8), I know that I can.

God, you have shown me that you require me to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Light the fire in my soul, fan the flame, and make my spirit whole so that I may show your love and compassion to others. Amen.  (This prayer is a paraphrase of one of my favorite songs we sing at Camp Lutherlyn, based on Micah 6:8.)

Written by Katrina Buchanan, Editorial Assistant

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