As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
Amos 6:1-8 (NRSV)
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see;
from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is your territory greater than their territory,
O you that put far away the evil day,
and bring near a reign of violence?
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!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
The Lord GOD has sworn by himself
(says the LORD, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds;
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.
I love to play the guitar. Trust me, I’m no good at it, but I do love playing. When I sit on my couch at home, I watch TV with my guitar right next to me, so I can reach over and pick around whenever I feel like it. Music is just such a relaxing endeavor for me. It allows me to take my mind off all the problems in the world.
The problem is until I read this section from Amos, I never realized the problem with allowing myself to get lost in my music. You see, for people like me, people who sit in their comfortable homes with their TVs turned to whatever they want to watch, with their fridges full of delicious food, listening to their favorite music, it is easy to get lost in all the wonderful things we have and forget all the people in the world who don’t have anything. This passage from Amos highlights one of the most devastating phenomena when it comes to our ability to care for the poor and needy: apathy.
In Amos’ time, the wealthiest people laid on their ivory beds and ate the best lambs from the flock while singing and listening to the music of the harp. The could create an entire world around them that had everything they needed without ever having to see the devastation of the poor communities around them. Sadly, in this age of social overstimulation, the same kind of social removal is all too easy. We can turn on the TV to our favorite sitcoms, or we can scroll through social media posts for hours without ever making ourselves aware of the suffering of the people just outside our door. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to rest and relax and escape the world. However, there is also a time to engage ourselves with the lives of the poor and oppressed so we can do our best to change the structures that keep them suffering. This holiday season, step out of your carefully curated environment and enter the lives of those who aren’t able to enjoy what you enjoy. You might find it was the best gift you could have received.
Almighty God, too many times we lock ourselves in our own worlds and ignore the suffering people around us you have called us to serve. This holiday season, open our eyes to the people around us who need our help and give us the strength to leave our comfortable homes and do the work you have called us to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Go with God!