Praying with the scripture as it is assigned in the lectionary can be an exercise in humility and may serve to strengthen our curiosity. The images of God which we hold, shapes how we approach the scripture and hear what it says to us. Sometimes we need to listen long and deep to hear the Good News in a passage. Texts like this one in Amos used to frighten me; even paralyze me. Meeting with a spiritual director over the years has helped me wrestle through how God can be a God of love, mercy, and justice. I’ve come to trust the goodness and faithfulness of God. I offer this poem which came out of my own prayerful reflection on this text.
A Record Keeping God
Ledger spread wide
at a Scrouge like desk
keeping meticulous count
wrongs, one by one
scrutinized, recorded, tallied
kept in an all knowing vault
to be used to accuse.
This is the God I am afraid to trust
unsure of grace - wide enough for my list.
But, what if this is a list
of wrongs made right?
Restitution, remembered, repaid to
the weak, the helpless, the oppressed.
Will I trust this God of restorative justice -
who makes all things new?
Mud. dirt. dust.
Readied for seeds of new life to take root
and come to life.
What might my God do with mud?
Amos 8:4-7 (MSG)
Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming
so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
when I can go out and have a good time?”
Who give little and take much,
and never do an honest day’s work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.
7-8 God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
“I’m keeping track of their every last sin.”
God’s oath will shake earth’s foundations,
dissolve the whole world into tears.
God’s oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
leaving behind a sea of mud.
For Reflection and Prayer:
Listening with the “ear of your heart”, was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Gently repeat the word or phrase, giving it room to settle deeply in your heart.
Reflect on what you heard. Relish the words. Notice how the word or words affected you. You might choose to journal about what you heard.
Respond to what you heard and reflected on in your prayer with God. Is there a prayer which rises within you?
Rest in God as you simply be and entrust yourself to God in the quiet.