Monday, February 29, 2016

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (6)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

A God Whose Bark is Worse than His Bite – Amos (6)

Lent 18

          The last phrase of Amos’ prophesying says all that really needs to be said. He has thundered and blustered on God’s behalf against the egregious faithlessness of his people Israel. He has sliced and diced them in every was imaginable. And all with perfect right. Every indictment he pressed against them was true.
          If this were merely a political arrangement, surely the Lord would have washed his hands of these ingrates.
          If it were merely a contractural agreement, God would have taken them to court to sue them for breach of contract.
          If it were an economic relationship, God would have run them out of business and closed down their shop.
          But it is not any of those kinds of relationships. It is a family relationship. A marriage. An indissoluble bond between a utterly faithful groom and a largely unfaithful bride (remember Hosea 1-3). The groom is driven to the extremity of grief, disappointment, and despair over this bride, and even utters threats and declarations that seem to be the end for them.

“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!’” (Amos 8:2-3)

          If it is not too irreverent an image, God has barked and snarled at his people for their violations and transgressions. It seems inevitable that a deadly bite will soon follow. The people are laid out and defenseless. They have no complaint for they richly deserve what is coming.
But the deadly bite never comes. Instead, God closes Amos’ book by saying “says the Lord your God.”
Did you hear it? “Your” God?
God hasn’t and never gives up on his people!
-“Your” God – despite all the tough love parenting his people have required, God keeps the relationship alive.
-“Your” God – despite all the disappointment and grief they have caused him, love trumps all that and the relationship continues on.
-“Your God – where sin abounds, says the apostle Paul, grace “superabounds” Romans 5:20), and the relationship continues.
Yes, God’s bark is worse than his bite. He will always be “our” God, faithful to himself and his promises, no matter how faithless we turn out to be. This is the only reason we can do Lent. If our relationship to God hinged on our performance, we could never bear to look at ourselves honestly or in depth. But our relationship hinges on him, his love and faithfulness as shown in Jesus Christ, the one who said of his executioners (which is all of us), “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” With such a God we can be open and honest. Indeed, only with such a God can we be open and honest. And such a God we have!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

St. Paul and Consumer Society

by Peter J. Leithart 9 . 25 . 15 

According to many contemporary scholars, the apostle Paul didn’t object to “Judaizers” because they taught that salvation is achieved by works. He objected because Judaizers tried to reverse history by imposing the requirements of the old Mosaic covenant on Gentile Christians. Circumcision, dietary laws, and other Jewish practices functioned as “boundary markers,” and Paul insisted that such badges of Jewishness were now relativized to a common identity in Christ. Judaizing disrupted the Church in which there is no “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”

Some traditional Protestants regard this new reading of Paul with suspicion, partly because it seems to rob Paul’s letters of their timeless relevance. Luther’s Paul always has something to say, because self-salvation is a perennial temptation. But if Paul is addressing a problem specific to the first century, what does he have to say to us now? Can we preach a Paul who is centrally concerned with Jewish identity?

The Gospel You’ve Never Heard


hurch is a bad word in our society today. Or at least a word you don’t use in polite society anymore. Yet that’s what I’m going to talk about. I won’t always use the word but that’s my subject here. I hope at the end that it won’t seem like such a bad word to you.


he Bible tells this story as a drama in six acts: creation, catastrophe, covenant with Israel, Christ, covenant with Church, consummation.

Act 1: Creation


ere’s the deal. God, another bad word in many circles today, created the world and everything and all of us in it. God created it to be a home he could share with his human creatures forever. And the place where God dwells or intends to dwell is a temple.


he creation stories in Genesis picture the creation of the world as the construction of a temple.

-The Garden in Eden reflects the innermost sanctum of Solomon’s temple, the Holy of Holies. This is where God lives.

-Eden itself reflects the Holy Place.

-The world outside Eden, as yet uninhabited, is watered by the four rivers out of Eden, signaling its eventual habitation. This reflects the outer courts of the temple which with habitation will be coextensive with creation itself.


his God is also the great king, the ruler of all, and kings live in a palace. So creation as does double duty as a temple and a palace.


nd God intends his human creatures to serve him as royal priests in his temple palace. The Bible calls this the “image of God.” As his royal children God wants us to represent him and reflect his will and character as we make our way through the world. As priests in his creation temple he commissioned us to protect his temple and nurture it to its full flourishing. Thus, by caring for the well-being of God’s creation, we carry out our priestly service.


od’s made his creation “good,” even “very good.” But this does not mean it was perfect in a static sense, as good as it would ever be. Rather, it was perfectly suited as an initial habitation for God’s royal priestly creatures. It would be their task to nurture and guide the creation to its full flourishing which would also be the maturity of humanity. And for a while, as little as 5½ hours if one rabbi is to be believed, things went well. But only for a while.

Act 2: Catastrophe


umanity though, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, and the rest, defaulted on their identity and commission as God’s royal priests. Instead they chose to be their own gods, shaping and guiding life and creation in the way they saw best. This is why the agent of their “fall” was a talking snake. The creation story in Genesis 2-3 was written after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The temptation represented by the talking snake was one the Israelites knew all too well. They had seen it and heard it talk in Egypt.


he snake, you see, was pharaoh’s symbol of power and sovereignty. A snarling cobra was made and placed in the pharaoh’s turban. This walking, talking snake symbolized for Israel the premier temptation and danger to God’s creatures – to be pharaoh themselves. That is, to grab for sovereignty, power, and autonomy in their own right.


nd it worked. Eve and Adam bought this pharaonic lie. They went for it and turned everything God intended for his creatures and creation upside down and inside out. God’s good order unraveled. Nothing remained untouched by this perfidy.

-most importantly, humanity is alienated from God, its life-source. Now dead inside, their ways of making their way in the world become death-dealing (literally in the case of Cain).

-their identity now distorted, anxiety engulfs them. Adam and Eve are ashamed of their nakedness and the stain of shame poisons our inner lives.

-but not only our inner lives. Anxiety, guilt, and shame spoil their relationships as well.

-finally, humanity’s relationship with creature becomes troubled. They become enemies of one another neither treating each other very well.


reation endures de-creation in the flood (Genesis 6-8). After the flood God starts anew with Noah and his family. But the same tragic patterns recurs. This part of the story ends up at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Humanity gathers together there as one to build a city and forge a religion that would protect them and enable them to establish their own sense of significance and security. A strong city, their own religion, and a bastion against being scattered abroad, the epitome of humanity’s pharaonic achievement! Yet this too falls apart before God.


e muddles the speech of Babel’s inhabitants so they can no longer understand one another. Their building effort comes to a screeching halt. Significance does come that way. Nor does security. God scatters the Babelians all across the lands around them. In the debris of their failed efforts at establishing their own significance and security apart from God, the narrator gives the divine verdict on such efforts by noting at the end of this part of the story that Sarai, a key figure in the ongoing story, is barren (Gen.11:32). A dispiriting thud, to say the least.


Act 3: Covenant with Israel

od never acquiesced in humanity’s revolt. Instead, he launched a subversive counter-revolutionary movement. He called Abram (we know him better as Abraham) and Sarai (better known as Sarah) to be the parents of this subversive counter-revolutionary movement (SCRM). And he made a covenant with them to be their God and for them to be his people. Period. An unconditional and unilateral commitment of the Creator to be the Redeemer of his creation gone awry for this new people he calls into existence and through them everyone else (Genesis 12:1-3)!


his means that God wants to have one place and one people on earth who will live like he wants. This people will be his prototype, a micromodel of what he wants for his world. They will re-ravel the frayed threads of the broken creational mosaic back into a discernible approximation of God’s intentions for his creatures. This is subversive because it allows every person the freedom to respond to this action of God. God’s SCRM is not a top-down imposition of some “theocratic religion” on unwilling or uncommitted human beings. Rather in the relationships formed by this new community and its example to the world God will woo and win his wayward creatures back.


s God’s SCRM this new covenant community, this new family, will also seek to demonstrate the kind of social order God desires. It will shape its life together to counter the attitudes, actions, patterns, and systems put in place by the human revolution of sin and provide alternatives faithful to God’s intentions. Sometimes they will be accepted by some in the larger world and sometimes not. But whether acceptable to the world or not, this is to be the way of life for God’s people.


he way God’s SCRM will live is specified in the Mosaic covenant. The Ten Commandments and the myriads of other laws we find in the five books attributed to Moses are how those ancient Israelites were to play their role in their time and place. As their circumstances changed and the form of their peoplehood changed, these laws were adapted at points to reflect these changes. We can see this clearly in the book Deuteronomy where the people are on the threshold of leaving off their nomadic wandering in the desert and enter into life as a settled people with a land of their own.


od’s covenant with Abraham is like the operating system of a computer. His covenant with Moses is like a software program. Sinai 1.0 were the original set of commands and instructions. Just across the Jordan River from the promised land, an update, Sinai 2.0, is issued. And every time Israel’s situation in the world changed (united and divided monarchy, exile in Babylon, return from exile but still under foreign domination) further upgrades reflecting how in this circumstance to live as God’s SCRM was issued.


ith David God makes a covenant that reaffirms the one with Abraham and shows how God takes an act of faithlessness and incorporates it into his purposes. The people’s desire for a king so they can be like all the other nations around them God declares a rejection of him as their king (as he had been since the Exodus). Nevertheless, God accepts this desire of the people and allows them a human king. Saul turns out to a big flop as the first king. But with David God gets one, who despite his all too evident flaws and failures, has a heart for the SCRM God is trying to build around him. God makes a covenant with him such that his heirs will always sit on Israel’s throne (2 Samuel 7). Thus when Jesus comes as the messiah, he is an heir of David. And the life he lives defines the kind of kingship God allowed for Israel (Deuteronomy 17; Psalm 72) but which all from the kings from David on had violated. So God redeems even this deviation from his intention and makes it key component of his people.


eremiah 31 sets forth a prophecy of a “new” covenant. God promises a time when all that failed under the previous covenants will be realized and internalized by God himself. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). God foretells a time when a breathtaking knowledge and intimacy will prevail among God and his people. With this new covenant dawns an age into which we are still living and will in the end experience finally and fully forever!

Act 4: Christ


ow we reach the climax or pinnacle of the biblical drama. Jesus Christ is God’s best and final act in this drama.

-He fulfills God’s covenant with Abraham – he is God’s love for Israel and through them the rest of humanity.

-He fulfills God’s covenant with Moses – he offers God a life lived in total and indefectible loyalty and love.

-He fulfills God’s covenant with David – he is the Messiah and great Davidic King who will rule the world forever.

-He fulfills the new covenant promised through Jeremiah – all he is and does draws us deeper and deeper into the life of God – the eternal community of sharing and returning for one another of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the kind of knowledge and intimacy God made us for.


He thing about this fulfillment Christ enacted of all these promises and covenants is that his fulfillment of them looked nothing like what a good Jew of the time would recognize. No one ever thought it would look like this:

-instead of a military hero running the hated Romans out of town with his sword at their backs,

-instead of returning Israel to a place of primacy among the nations,

-instead of rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple as the “place” where the world would henceforth meet God,

-instead of enforcing Torah/Law on the Gentiles or introducing a “Jesus”- religion,


-came bringing a peace not of the sword but of sacrificial servanthood, even dying for us rather than killing his enemies,

-restored Israel to its proper vocation of serving the world and sharing God’s blessing with it,

-became himself, through God’s raising him from the dead, the new Temple and “place” where God and humankind would meet,

-called for a radical way of life enabled by and modelled on his Spirit-filled existence marked by sacrificial service and servanthood of others.


hrough Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension God’s great work of reclaiming his rebellious creatures and restoring them to his plan and purposes was completed. The victory has been won and cannot be undone. It can only now spread and take root in those who follow Jesus everywhere they go. And that brings us to the next act in the drama.

Act 5: Covenant with the Church


gain, as with Christ, the spread and implementation of Jesus’ victory is not a typical triumphal procession of a victorious military champion (though we seem too often to forget this and act as though it was). Jesus’ followers enact his victory in their lives and in their world by the same sacrificial servanthood that marked his life.


hrist lives in and among his church, its Lord and Leader. Through us he will pour out the love of God’s broken heart for his people and his dreams for their destiny. He inducts us into the ranks of his SCRM through baptism, in which his life becomes ours, and sustains us in our service by the Eucharist, in which our lives become his. Thus living between the Font and the Table is the way we live as God’s SCRM.


he Holy Spirit, given us by Christ at Pentecost is the way Christ lives in and among us. Even in our continuing brokenness we know his power when we find ourselves living ever more deeply into God’s triune life and are agents establishing outposts of new life wherever we go. Through this Spirit we are equipped to be a people through whom God may spread his blessings everywhere and to everyone.


ike the Allied forces in World War II in the European theater after the decisive battles at Normandy, the church lives from the victory of Christ. Yet, also like those forces, we remain enmeshed in the struggle with the enemy who had been dealt a mortal blow, cannot win, yet fights on to the very end all the same. It was nearly a year after D-Day before the hostilities finally ceased in Europe and V-Day was proclaimed. Living between Christ’s D-Day, his death and resurrection, and his V-Day, his return to finally and fully establish God’s reign, God’s SCRM lives in the same conflictual situation. We have to keep on full alert, trained and ready to keep on practicing the “violence of love” (Oscar Romero) Jesus teaches us.

Act Six: Consummation


evelation 21-22 gives us our fullest picture of what God’s plan all worked out and fulfilled looks like. In John the Seer’s last vision we find that what God started in the creation, the construction of a Temple in which he intends to dwell with his creatures on his creation. The New Jerusalem, which importantly comes down from heaven to the new heavens and earth, is the people of God in and with whom God makes his home (Revelation 21:3). Furthermore, the city is constructed as a cube. The only other cubic structure in the Bible is the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple. Finally, the New Jerusalem is coextensive with the new creation. Thus, we have the micro-cosmic Holy of Holies in the garden of Eden has grown into the worldwide Holy of Holies that God always wanted!


oreover, the garden has a glorious city around it now. The end is not a return to the beginning but the beginning fully matured. The fruits of human industry and creativity, purified by God, are taken up and incorporated by him into our eternal dwelling. Everything we do, or have the chance to do, here and now bears eternal significance then and there. Nothing real, good, or beautiful will be lost to God’s new creation. The glory of human work and glory to God for his works is not a zero-sum game. Instead, each enhances the other. Like Irenaeus of Lyon, the 2nd century theologian said, “The glory of God is humanity fully alive, and life is beholding God”!


his vision in Revelation is a picture of “God’s Love Wins!” That is finally what it means. An innumerable multicultural host throngs together around God and the Lamb in fellowship, praise, and worship. But lest you think life then and there is simply playing harps and singing praise to God, John ends this vision with the note that God’s people will “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). This takes us back to the beginning to humanity’s commission as God’s image-bearers to serve as royal priests in his creation Temple. At last they will experience life in all the fullness and flourishing God intends for them.


he circle is complete. Or better, the journey has reached its goal. God has stuck with his creation dream through all manner of hardship, struggle, and provisional defeat at unfathomable cost to himself to see it to his goal for it. He now has the creation in full flourishing, humanity matured, and a life of communication, communion, and community with humanity ready to live!  


Nd this, I submit, is the gospel you’ve never heard!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Mercy of God: An Excerpt From a Sermon of Karl Barth's Given in a Swiss Prison

For God has made all men prisoners, that he may have mercy upon all. (Romans 11.32)

"Since God's mercy is divine and not human, it is poured out on all people, as emphasized in our text. In his letter to the Romans Paul interprets this mercy by insisting that it is extended to Jews and the gentiles- to those near, or at least nearer, to God and those far away from him- to the so-called pious and the so-called unbelievers- to the so-called good and the so-called evil people- truly to all. God has mercy on all, though each in his own way. God's mercy is such as it described in the parable of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the prodigal son.

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (5)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

Response – Amos (5)

Lent 17

          Israel’s history with God does not portend a welcome hearing of Amos’ message. As he has in previous sections of his book, the prophet highlights this by a repeated phrase in ch.4: “yet you did not return to me” (4:6,8,9,10,11). In spite of all God’s goodness lavished on his people, they repeatedly turned away from him.
          How is this possible? How could they (we, me) turn away again and again from such a prodigal lover? This is perhaps the most perplexing thing about us humans. And it testifies to the power of the all that opposes God’s and God’s way in our world. In particular, for Israel and for us, the power of wealth, comfort, and ease is perhaps the most seductive of them. No wonder, the prophets, and above all Jesus himself, warn against wealth’s seductive power, even treating it as a rival deity that challenges and cannot coexist with worship of the true God.
          Ken Medema has sung this reality in his “By the Waters of Luxury” from the “Kingdom in the Streets” album. Reflect on it for your own spiritual health today.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Amos (4)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

The Rhythm of Life - Amos (4)

Lent 14

          Amos has sketched Israel’s life from its beginning as a nation due to God’s gracious intervention and rescue of them from Egypt. And his equipping and preparing them for life as his people through whom he will bless the rest of the world. And his promise of his own presence and power with them. Further, has detailed the manifold ways in which the people have failed him and their mission. These failures have occasioned the threat of a “day of the Lord” and the people don’t seem to realize the trouble they are in:

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? (5:18-20)

          The rhythm of life, the way Israel is called to live, is stated by Amos as “hear” (3:13; 4:1; 5:1) and “seek” (5:4,6,14). The Hebrew word shamah (“hear”) is more than a mere hearing of what someone is saying. It also carries the sense of “heeding” what is heard. It means “hear/heed.” Amos picks up on this aspect with his call to “seek.” Both of these words, then, call attention to the importance of listening. If we listen and how we listen usually determines whether or not we respond properly to what is heard. Therefore, I want to look today at this business of listening.

Adam McHugh describes listening this way: “Listening is never passive, a stall or placeholder until doing steps in and saves the day. Biblical listening is a whole-hearted, full-bodied listening that not only vibrates our eardrums but echoes in our souls and resonates out into our limbs” (The Listening Life).

But (as in Amos’ day) many obstacles to such listening today.  

1.    We’re fragmented – as fallen human beings we’re alienated from our center and source (God). We do not truly know ourselves or what is best for us. This is really the root of our difficulty in listening to God. The rest are exacerbating factors.


2.    Too much noise – the 24/7 365 wired and connected world we live in means the possibility of “wall to wall” noise. This is a reality for many in our culture.

3.    Loneliness, which can lead to self-absorption – loneliness leaves us alone with ourselves with no one to buffer the central place of the “I” in our lives.  When thus focused on our “self” we hear only our own voice and its echoes.


4.    Fear of change – none of us change easily or often. I mean really change in the sense of transforming our lives or some aspects of them.


5.    A visual culture stimulates by images – listening is some respects less important than it was in less imagistic settings and contexts.

Good listening, for those of us nurtured in the culture described above, has to be learned. And it can be. It begins by making ourselves available to hear what God says at the place where he says it. And that means the Bible. And the willingness to believe that God wants to talk to us and has through these ancient words. And we can find no better guide to teach us than Dietrich Bonhoeffer (adapted from

1. Good listening requires patience.

Bonhoeffer warns us to avoid “a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say.” This, he says, “is an impatient, inattentive listening, that . . . is only waiting for a chance to speak.” Full attention is necessary for genuine listening.

2. Good listening is an act of love.

True listening, according to Bonhoeffer, “despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person.” Poor listening rejects and diminishes others; good listening embraces others and invites them to realize their existence and that they matter. Hearing God begin with such listening that tends to his reality in his speaking.

3. Good listening prepares us to speak well.

“We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” A person who listens to God without defensiveness or trying to deflect the significance of God’s word to them will be better able to know what to say to others when the time comes.

4. Good listening reflects our relationship with God.

who can no longer listen to his brother or sister will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life . . . . Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies. (Bonhoeffer)

          May the Spirit teach us such listening and may we thus hear God’s word to us in Amos, the hard words that so easily put us off but which are absolutely crucial to a faithful practice of Lent.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Change We Should Believe In

Fr. Stephen Freeman 1 Comment

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Co 3:18)

Among the many losses within modern Christianity has been the place of transformation. Nineteenth-century revival movements and theology emphasized a single experience that was associated with salvation. Those who concerned themselves with what came later, described growth in the Christian life as “sanctification,” and tended to imply that it was optional. Contemporary Christians have settled for a spiritual life in a plain brown wrapper ever since.


The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

The Prophet Goes to Meddling! – Amos (3)

Lent 13

We’re okay with prophets as long as they’re goring someone else’s ox. But when they train they guns on us and our practices, well . . . it’s time to run them out of town. Especially if they are an outsider. And Amos was a southerner called not merely to preach but to meddle in the lives and affairs of the northern kingdom! And his meddling is specific and wide-ranging. And precisely in its specificity and comprehensiveness it hits home with us today in 21st century North America.
The sheer volume of the indictments in Amos presses on the reader their seriousness. I have reproduced those sections below without comment. I invite you to reflect on them yourselves and feel their critique for whatever area of life they prick your heart and conscience about.
 because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
 they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,
    and push the afflicted out of the way;
father and son go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
 they lay themselves down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge;
and in the house of their God they drink
    wine bought with fines they imposed.”
“But you made the nazirites drink wine,
    and commanded the prophets,
    saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’”
“store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”

“I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house;
    and the houses of ivory shall perish,
and the great houses shall come to an end,
says the Lord.”
“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan
    who are on Mount Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
    who say to their husbands, ‘Bring something to drink!’”
“Come to Bethel—and transgress;
    to Gilgal—and multiply transgression;
bring your sacrifices every morning,
    your tithes every three days;
bring a thank offering of leavened bread,
    and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;
    for so you love to do, O people of Israel!
says the Lord God.”
“They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
    and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
 Therefore because you trample on the poor
    and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
    but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
    but you shall not drink their wine.”
   “and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
    and push aside the needy in the gate.”
“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.”
“Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
    and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
    and calves from the stall;
 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
    and like David improvise on instruments of music;
 who drink wine from bowls,
    and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
    but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!”
“But you have turned justice into poison
    and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—
 you who rejoice in Lo-debar,
    who say, ‘Have we not by our own strength
    taken Karnaim for ourselves?’”
“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.’”
          Scripture is a cup we can drink from to lake our thirst, a pool we can bathe in to be cleansed, and a river we can drown and be raised to new life through by God. Lent is a call to move into the sacred text beyond our thirst, even beyond our need to be cleaned, but as a river that can drown us, our old life as tragically and conclusively demonstrated by Amos, that we can be raised to the new life in Christ, which is the life we are meant for and the ife the world needs to see in and through us to draw them to God.