These reflections were commissioned by Church of the Ascension in Elmhurst Illinois and are also being used by Light of Christ in Kenosha, Wisconsin. If you are a member of either congregation, I’d love for you to read these from those websites–it helps them know that someone actually finds these reflections helpful.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In general, prophets were not popular people. When they visited, the message they brought was a corrective one. Amos, sent from Judah into Israel, was sent to shock the Israelites out of their current bad spiritual habits into a return to God. One of the things God takes them to task for is their exploitation of the poor: “…that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat.” (Amos 8:5b-6) It is this unwillingness to let the Law rule their hearts that the Lord proclaims through Amos: “I hate, I despise your feasts,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 peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them” (Amos 5:21-22). What did Amos earn for his trouble? An invitation to leave town: Amos is told, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom” (Amos 7:12-13).
Listen to the Lord and allow his words through the prophets convict you. Is there some small way in which you are justifying your own desires and not doing God’s will? Are you cheating somewhere in your life that is affecting your ability to be grateful and thankful to God for what he has given you? Listen to the cry of the prophets, repent of your sin and know the joy that comes from Christ breaking through to our world and our hearts.