Amos 8, 1-6
Something to read
Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.
And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?
King James Version
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 on 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 practise deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.'
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
I remember how the Accra Confession on the global economic situation was received by many here in churches in the West when it came out of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 2004.
It's an uncompromising attack upon the way the world has ended up. It speaks of rich nations holding poor nations down. It speaks of aid as a cover for massive and unending injustice. It has passion and anger. There is holy rage in it.
And I remember meetings in which it was almost laughed at by too many. The economics and theology were naive. The demands were unrealistic. It was as if we could not hear this voice from sisters and brothers in Christ because they wanted to unmake our world and reveal its rottenness.
But read Accra alongside this text from Amos and I think you hear the voice of God. It is when some people are thriving that the searching glance of faith must look beneath the surface of things.
Amos sees economics that kill. Accra was a voice that spoke similar words. What does it mean for relatively rich and comfortable people of deep faith to hear?
Something to do
Fire up your web browser and go to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches homepage. There you'll find a link to "Covenanting for Justice". Read the Accra Confession.
Think about your responses to it and what God is saying to you in terms of your choices and daily living.
Something to pray
Your anger, Lord, burns against those who practice and police injustice.
Your good creation is meant to be haven for all, not treasure for a few to be plundered and guarded with arrogance and greed.
You call us to live as if connected one to another,
for only in community and relationship can we find our true selves.
Kindle in us your holy rage against injustice and exploitation.
Help us to name as heresy the greed that ignores suffering and justifies inequality.
Forgive us for our part in a global system sustained by poverty for millions.
Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Director of Pastoral Studies at Westminster College, Cambridge, and author of the Surefish.co.uk monthly prayers.