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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, July 14, 2022  

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 spare them no longer.
The songs of the temple shall become wailings on that day,”
            says the Lord God;
“the dead bodies shall be many,
    cast out in every place. Be silent!”

Hear this, you who 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 smaller and the shekel heavier
    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)

Wow! We have a very angry God in this passage and understandably so. People were cheating others, robbing from the poor, not keeping the Sabbath, and the list goes on. God is going to punish them in several different ways because of their poor behavior and treatment of others that are in need.

As I write this devotion, I am currently in Montreat, North Carolina, teaching at the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Worship and Music Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “In the Stranger’s Guise,” a Celtic rune that talks about when we encounter Christ as a stranger. One line from poem reads “Often, often, often, goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.” Our classes and worship during the conference are focusing on where Christ appears in our lives and how we should always show love, mercy, and grace to everyone that we encounter.

I know that I am at fault plenty when it comes to welcoming a stranger. I may be tired, anxious, uncomfortable, or just not feeling very hospitable. I can be very much like the citizens of Israel, thinking only about my own needs. I’m sure we all experience these feelings, especially during our current times, where we may feel numb watching the mess of the broken world that we live in.

How can we change our ways? Our pastor at this conference talked about breathing in God’s love and strength and breathing out God’s love and grace and mercy to others.

We never know what situation a stranger we encounter is dealing with, and it’s our job to spread the love of God to everyone we meet, treating them with love, grace, and respect.

Loving God, help me to always be willing to help those around me and to focus less on my own needs and priorities. Help me to see God in our community, and spread love, grace, and respect to others. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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